A preoccupation with time and work animated this deeply engaging exhibition of two recent media works by Rirkrit Tiravanija. Lung Neaw (Uncle Neaw, 2010) shows an elderly Thai man on a video screen for eight hours and 19 minutes, filmed in real time and corresponding precisely to the opening hours of the gallery (the extra 19 minutes are to sweep up, one supposes). He scratches his face, picks his nose, fans himself, dozes, eats, and, every so often steps out of the camera for a minute or two. The one activity in which he never engages is work. Yet his face becomes a kind of human clock, telling when the light fades and dusk approaches in the Thai countryside where he sits.
Uncle Neaw makes for a strangely captivating and memorable subject — one who makes you want to keep watching as his day, and ours, drifts away. The film seems less a day-in-the-life document than a contemplation of one way of thinking about the work day.
The idea of the passage of time loses some of its punch in Pilar 06.10.10, an eight-hour slide projection depicting the director of the gallery standing by a fence in London’s Hyde Park. With a slate and a piece of chalk, she narrates in writing a previous day’s business. For example: “I received a call from a curator asking for funding for an artists exhibition.” The piece is a study of the confluence of work and public discourse, signalled by the fact that she is standing at Speaker’s Corner, a traditional spot to hear political harangues. With their distinct approaches, the dual works are very different reflections on the meaning of labor.