The mudac, which is the only design museum in French-speaking Switzerland, a region considered one of the glo- bal centres of cheap breirling replica watchmaking, decided to investigate the universe of timekeeping. It is the first design museum to take such a wide-ranging and cross-disciplinary view of watchmaking, bringing together in Telling Time the products of an internationally renowned tradition of fine watchmaking with the explorations of industrial designers and newco- mers from the world of digital technology.
Although the tools we use continue to evolve, knowing what time it is and being able to measure its passage remain fundamental concerns; most people continue to carry something with them to help them tell the time. The exhibition underlines watchmaking’s enduring vitality after more than five hundred years, and demonstrates its extraordinary capacity to innovate and reinvent itself, producing timekeeping instruments that meet the needs of its particular era, from the invention of hands to the biometric sensors of the latest Breguet replica smartwatches. A series of chapters present some of the classic explorations of watchmaking, alongside others that are less obvious: daytime, night time, universal time, dials that show 24, 12 or even 10 hours, luminous hours, even secret hours.
Their features help us to draw parallels with contemporary designers and plastic artists whose works explore ways of prolonging, diverting or testing the display of time and the passage of time. Gianni Motti counts down the seconds to the time when the sun is expected to explode, in 5 billion years (Big Crunch Clock, 1999); Maartens Baas offers a video in which the time is displayed by people sweeping up rubbish, in real time (Sweepers Clock, 2009); John M Armleder reinterprets the idea of a memento mori in a contemporary watch (ART-DNA, Romain Jérôme, 2012); Ivan Argote counts off the hours and minutes in dollars or euros (Time is Money, 2007); Siren Elise Wilhelmsen measures the passage of time by the progress on the scarf knitted by her wall clock (365 Knitting Clock, 2010); Marti Guixé’s timepiece reminds us when it is time to eat by emitting food smells at the appropriate moment (Time to eat, 2011). Time is brought bang up to date, exploring the opportunities offered by ingenuity, wit, intelligent imitation and poetry. Canvases, one-of-a-kind or mass-produced items, projections and installations punctuate the itinerary through the exhibition, building up an unexpected and revealing panorama of our relationship with time and the way we tell it.
Each of these domains – replica Breitling watchmaking Swiss, art and design – brings its own particular resonance, its own poetry and aesthetic language. The exhibition builds bridges from one time to another, one subject to another, sometimes playfully, while highlighting the harmony and continuity between the past and the present. It is unexpected, curious and funny.
Telling Time brings together a considerable corpus of more than 150 objects from all over Europe. The histori- cal pieces are from both private collections and major public repositories, including the International Museum of Horology (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Uhrenmuseum Beyer in Zurich, the Musée d’Horlogerie – Château des Monts in Le Locle, and the Louvre Museum and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, as well as heritage collec- tions from manufactures such as Vacheron Constantin, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The scenography is a result of a partnership with the ECAL/Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, and is the work of Iris Andreadis, Anna Heck, Pauline Lemberger and Jérôme Rütsche, all students on the Exhibition Design course led by industrial designer Adrien Rovero.
A book to accompany the exhibition has been produced jointly by the mudac and 5 Continents Editions (Milan). It includes all the works in the exhibition along with essays by the exhibition curators and experts in a variety of disciplines.
Telling Time will be presented at the Musées des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2016.
mudac – Lausanne
27 May – 27 September 2015