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Modern Times

Exhibition opening: Thursday, December 8th 2016
Exhibition closing: Wednesday, March15th 2017

Time is a fascinating phenomenon – on one hand, a steady, ceaseless progression of seconds, minutes and hours, and on the other hand this progression is measured in cyclical processes, such as the renewal of the day with every turn of the Earth around itself. The earliest clocks, sundials, measured the angle of the sun through the observation of shadow. The need for shorter and more accurate units of measurement led to the development of increasingly complex mechanical clocks, beginning in the late 13th century. The 17th century saw the development of portable pocket-watches, a revolution in the perception of time and timekeeping. Time was dissociated from natural processes and measured in minutes and seconds, short man-made units.

As part of its permanent exhibitions, the Museum for Islamic Art displays clocks based on complex mechanical principles. The museum holds one of the most important collections in the field of horology, assembled by Sir David Lionel Salomons and donated to the museum by Vera Bryce Salomons, his daughter and founder of the museum. The most important items in the museum are the groundbreaking clocks of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), one of the most influential figures in the history of modern horology, responsible for important technological advancements in the field.

The modern conception of time and the devices that measure it, mechanical clocks, are the focus of the exhibition Modern Times. The timepiece-maker-artist Itay Noy creates his devices with the eye of a researcher, raising the various meanings of time and the ways we experience it. Another point of view on the concept of time is presented by the recorded performance Standard Time, in which time is repeatedly dismantled and rebuilt by workers laboring to meet a demanding, relentless schedule. These works highlight the modern notion of time as a continuum of seconds, minutes and hours, each moment of which is ephemeral and fleeting.