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The History, Politics, and Ethics of Time

Sonia Sheridan, Self-Portrait in Time, digital print on paper, 30 1/16 in. x 39 15/16 in. ( 76.3 cm x 101.5 cm ), Gift of Professor Diane M. Kirkpatrick

HISTORY 328, GERMAN 365 – School of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Faculty Curator: Helmut Puff (History, German)

On view: Fall 2021

Time grounds our lives, and yet it often escapes notice. “The History, Politics, and Ethics of Time” asks students to consider the history, politics, and ethics of notions of time to gain a richer understanding of how our conceptions of it shape who we are. Art is able to represent the many ways people have experienced and understood time, and here it plays a central role in the students’ exploration of what time is and has been.

Featuring works of art that employ various forms of visual narration, the installation takes up a number of questions that illuminate how varied our experiences of time are. What is a moment, how long is it, and how do sequences of moments become assembled into stories? What does waiting tell us about time? How do artists visually represent things like the past and the future or memory and forgetting? Together, these works of art have us imagine temporality as multiple and help us understand that our perceptions of it are always anchored in our experience of time in the present.

Works Included In This Collection

Jakob Kolding
collage on paper
George Grosz
ink on wove paper
circa 1556
Jan van Hemessen
oil on panel
Patrick Caulfield; Frank Kicherer; Advanced Graphics ; Petersburg Press; Waddington Graphics
screenprint on paper
Richard L. Sears
watercolor on paper
William Hogarth
etching and engraving on laid paper


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Erica Gervais Pappendick and Ted Pappendick, the Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker Endowment Fund, and the Oakriver Foundation.