Don’t Open until 2116: Babak Golkar Questions the Value of Art with His Mysterious Time Capsules

Imagine a time capsule packed and sealed in 2016, then set to be opened a hundred years from now. That’s the concept behind “Time Capsules (2016-2116),” a new series of sculptural assemblages by Canadian artist Babak Golkar.

Highly conceptual yet somehow familiar, these varied works make up “In No Particular Hurry,” Golkar’s first solo exhibition in Spain, currently on view at Sabrina Amrani in Madrid. The show is part of Apertura Madrid Gallery Weekend, and selected works will also be displayed by Sabrina Amrani at Artissima 2016 in Turin.

Golkar’s works aren’t conventional time capsules filled with letters, documents, and small artifacts; his assemblages are made of taxidermy, ceramics, hydrostone, and 3D-printed plastic polymers, among other material. Some look like classic statuary; others, like gravestones. A few look like everyday objects, as in the suitcase-shaped Inherited revolution (2016–2116). Meanwhile, The Weight of the World (2016–2116) is an imposing fiberglass replica of a statue from the Parthenon.

Each of the varied artworks contains another, concealed artwork unknown to everyone except the artist. The idea is that the capsule remain sealed until 2116; otherwise, if it is opened anytime before then, the piece’s economic value drops to zero, as laid out in a written agreement between Golkar and the collectors who initially acquire his work. It’s a provocative idea, given that neither the artist nor the collector will be alive a hundred years from now. The concealment of the inner works raises questions about the value of art as well as the value we place on actually being able to see it.

Indeed, while the typical time capsule usually exists to document a moment in time, Golkar’s goals are loftier. Beyond the power of each piece, he’s interested in value creation and the role of the artist within that system, particularly the extent to which artists decide, through their own creative contributions, what has value and what is worth saving.

As the title suggests, you might not want to acquire one of these works if you’re in a hurry. You might also ask yourself, as you imagine what the curiously beautiful capsules contain, why we collect art in the first place.


—Bridget Gleeson


Babak Golkar: In No Particular Hurry” is on view at Sabrina Amrani, Madrid, Sept. 15–Nov. 29, 2016.

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