A hospital is not a place you go for fun, but if I have to, I love coming to Erasmus Medical Centre. It has to do with the clock hanging there, in the middle of the huge corridor that everyone has to pass through to get to their destination.
Hospital time counts. Everyone who comes there gets into a capsule in which the normal daily time is replaced by another. At best, you enter the hour from quarter past twelve with a heavy heart and leave at quarter past twelve with a lighter heart. If you are unlucky it will take longer. Then you’re trapped in hospital time, which concretely acts like something moving outside of you. It is the kind of time that Thomas Mann so beautifully described magic mountain. You are subject to it, passively in a world with its own orderly dynamics. Not fast and not slow. something in between.
Not in a hurry
And above that leads the regularity of restless and anxious persons, to life and death, and above all that hangs upon that hour, like a great black sun. Hands are made up of rubbish that two men are carefully and hastily picking up in the parking lot. They sweep time forward. In time, their brooms reach for the next minute at a time.
This watch is a work of art, made by designer/artist Martin Bass. He made many of them, in all kinds of variations, which can now be seen in the Museum of Forlinden. But the 2009 broom hour was the first, and I think the best.
Anyone who has seen this watch will never forget it
The rubbish, the sweeping people, the parking lot and also the driveway it’s on all come into perfect alliance in Rotterdam. Anyone who has seen this watch will never forget it.
Artworks in public spaces are often a bit orphan. Even when well maintained, it is rarely a part of life. This also applies to the clock in the corridor of the Erasmus Hospital, but it has something divine about it. This big clock shows time for exactly what it is: something moving outside of us, carefully and unhurriedly, in a perpetual circle from 12 to 12. The men sweep, the bill of the hour. We walk to our appointment. or return from there.
Step, step, step. Tap, tap, tap. Wipe, wipe, wipe.
orders from the president.
exhibition Martin Bass at the Forlinden Museum, Wassenaar, It’s about time. Until September 24, 2023
A version of this article also appeared in the June 20, 2023 issue of the newspaper.
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