First Love exemplifies the unhinging of time and desire in contemporary life through the image and material form of melting ice
. The work aligns ice with desire under capitalism in several interlocking parts: as an installation of four large-scale glow-in-the-dark paintings, a selection of films from the First Love series, and with 13 small paintings of ice on mirror. Finally, in an extraordinary representation of the inextricable relationship between ice and time, a theatre light will slowly melt through a large block of ice.
First Love points to the breakdown of the human order of time as the embodiment and mirror image of the problem of desire under capitalism. Global timekeeping demands that we structure temporality in a linear fashion using atomic clocks to mimic cosmic time. But a gap exists between the hours kept on our clocks and universal time, which is ever-changing and always expanding with the cosmos. This schism is called Delta Time and it is exponentially increasing because of tidal braking, or the gravitational pull of the moon. This is widely known and accounted for by leap seconds, yet melting polar masses are anticipated to be further slowing the speed of the earth’s rotation because of the shifting dispersion of water.
While this work demonstrates how time and the capitalist machine are unhinging, the point maintained is that this is not disastrous, as cognisance of the dysfunction of the patriarchal and capitalist order is the only means of freedom from its rule. First Love is a work of hope, pointing to a harmonious human relationship with existence as liberated desiring organisms. In this sense, Delta Time can be seen as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe.
The exhibition is underpinned by a 13-part novella. Over the past six months a series of stories have been compiled, working with 13 people who have each made a response related to their experience of ‘first love’ both as a joy and a predicament. These accounts offer a survey of the lineage of political resistance in literature, as each contributor has told their story in correspondence with a literary work that represents the writing of love in confinement. This includes the authors Samuel Beckett, Charlotte Brontë, Marcel Proust, Simone Weil, Jean Genet, Virginia Woolf, Helen Garner, Anne Carson, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Roland Barthes, and Hélène Cixous. The novella is a manifestation of writing as an act of resistance, as each story and its corresponding text demonstrates that we can write our way to freedom; that words can release desire from subjugation to the capitalist machine and bring an end to our conflict with nature. These stories are currently being adapted into 13 short films, a selection of which will be displayed in the exhibition.