The film begins with a black screen except for a single white light in the lower-right corner. There’s the sound of rhythmic tinkling. The seconds yawn in between that opening shot and the appearance of more lights in the lower-left corner, and slowly, very slowly, the camera pulls back to reveal a suspension bridge at night: a terrestrial constellation guiding cars to their ports of call. It’s the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit, Michigan to Ontario, Canada. In the next scene, via a split-screen view, a car is on fire in a seemingly suburban neighborhood. Eventually a fire truck arrives. But while I wait, watching, it continues to burn. I expect the extinguishing to happen, but I don’t get to see it. Instead, the very next scene gives me a different use for water: as a region for exploration. A boy plays in the sand on a beach, at the water’s edge, the fire of a sunset in the far distance behind him.
I’m watching Kambui Olujimi’s short film Where Does the Time Go … which premiered a few days ago at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center as part of its ongoing series of free, weekly performances. The screening has a live accompaniment by two jazz musicians, Chris Pattishall and Adam O’Farill. The music they play adds color and mood to Olujimi’s film, making certain passages more eerie than they would otherwise be, and making others feel dangerous, as in the scene where one of the main characters, played by Irungu Mutu, begins to climb an impossibly tall wall with his bare hands and sneakered feet, the keyboard’s melody screeching and the horn going plaintive.
I’m not sure what the film wants to give me in totality, but what I take is the ways that water becomes a conduit between us and the quotidian, crucial needs of our lives. There are scenes in which the water is a cleansing agent, as when we see the character played by Jessica Allie washing herself in the shower, and Mutu submerging himself in a bathtub. It becomes a meteorological mantle in the form of snow. Water gets sipped as tea, but is also shown powerfully dashing off cliff faces, and then goes placid again, becoming a smooth surface on which to skip stones. Then, most significantly, water registers as a guiding force for human settlement in a scene where the camera takes me far above a series of channels and among ports that are busy with the business of taking in, organizing, and storing resources conveyed via the sea.
Water is an apt analogy for the concept of time. Both time and water tend to take the shape of their containers: here, water takes on the forms I’ve mentioned and time stretches to fill the space created by image and music. From this film, this little reservoir of time, I take the emotional rewards of non-narrative exposition, as I come to feel how water quietly plays a mercurial but decisive role in my existence. I also sense that both water and time are irrevocable, that in moments I can only simply watch them meander and go.
Kambui Olujimi’s Where Does the Time Go … premiered at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center (61 West 62 Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan) on November 15.
Memories So Fair and Bright
Kimetha Vanderveen’s paintings are about the interaction of materiality and light, the bond between the palpable and ephemeral world in which we live.
Artists Contemplate Sovereignty in Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Art Institute’s 2024 International Thematic Residency focuses on what sovereignty means for artists from across the world.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
How Did Early Modern European Craftspeople Pass On Their Knowledge?
A new book about object making critically examines a written history of working with materials.
Dual Portrait of Old Master Rachel Ruysch Holds a Trove of Secrets
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just acquired the rare painting, which depicts the Dutch artist at work surrounded by her signature flora.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Did Van Gogh’s Disdain for the Eiffel Tower Inspire “Starry Night”?
Art historian James Hall argues that van Gogh replaced the Eiffel Tower with a towering cypress tree and its inaugural light shows with the night sky.
Greek Museum Welcomes Dogs For World Stray Animal Day
Furry friends and their pawrents can visit Athens’s National Museum of Contemporary Art for free this weekend.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Ai Weiwei Recreates Monet’s “Water Lilies” Using 650,000 LEGOS
It’s the artist’s largest LEGO artwork to date.
Did a Simpsons Episode Predict the Florida “David” Outrage?
The episode, which aired 30 years ago, made a dark prediction about conservative politics in 2023.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.