Reading One Million Years

Yesterday shortly after leaving the National Portrait Gallery I came across the following scene in Trafalgar Square:

Reading One Million Years

Click the image above for a larger view

Two people sitting in a glass box and alternately reciting dates (years only) to the perplexed crowd passing by.

This mind-numbing activity was explained on the back of a postcard, which someone was handing out, as follows:

On Kawara Reading One Million Years
Presented by the South London Gallery in Trafalgar Square

8am 29 March – 8am 5 April 2004

An epic work of conceptual art by the acclaimed Japanese artist, On Kawara, is presented in the UK for the first time in Trafalgar Square. A continuous reading lasting seven days and nights from the artist’s ten-volume work, One Million Years, takes extracts from Past, listing every year from 998,031 BC to 1969 AD, and Future, listing the years 1980 AD to 1,001,980 AD. On Kawara’s work speaks simply and directly about a subject relevant to us all, the passage and marking of time.

Some brief on-line research indicates that the work was reported in the Guardian last week. Performance art that’s defiantly dated, revealed that the recital is to be released as a four-volume limited edition boxed CD set. So if you miss the event itself, you know what to put on your Christmas list.

In the meantime, a selection of the public’s responses can be read in Let us begin. When asked if it made him think about time, John, 26, from Wimbledon, said “Well, I had a look at my watch a minute ago.”

Thursday was April Fool’s Day of course.