The title of Ceal Floyer’s (b. 1968, Pakistan) work Wish You Were Here, cites a cliché that was often written on the back of postcards. By the time you found the card in the post box and read it, it might have been more than a week since it was written. Someone thought of you when the card was written. Are you still welcome? Wish You Were Here draws on ready-mades, such as Marcel Duchamps Bottle Rack (1914). It was exhibited in the same way; without modifications and stripped of its original function. Unlike Duchamp, Floyer has given his work a title that invites interpretation. In our day and age most of us no long send postcards. This unassuming work is a momentous and deeply poetic commentary on our digital age.
A red thread runs through these works. The artists treat very serious themes and do this with the help of simple means and materials. Both collectively and individually the works can be read as memento mori – Latin for “Remember you must die”. The light bulbs, the coffin shape, even the empty postcard holder talk to us about life and our own impermanence. The simple means the artists employ offer us as viewers a striking and poetic paradox; we stand before works that are complex in their simplicity. They allude to the concept that everything has its time. Everything is a question of time.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Ischia), 1993. Photo: Thomas Widerberg