It’s like a microcosmic apocalypse seen from outer space—except strangely staid and palatable. Seen at this scale, the human condition doesn’t feel quite so insurmountable. Porter’s work is installed across from Edith Dekyndt’s poetic piece, One Thousand and One Nights (2016), in which a performer is engaged in the slow, endless task of sweeping a carpet of dust into a spotlit square on the ground. It reads as a meditative, melancholic expression of human toil.
Despite the strength of these works and others within this pavilion, they strain to meet the lofty terms set by it having been titled Time and Infinity. And so it is that an exhibition that starts with a bang ends with a fizzle.
Macel and her team took considerable risks with this exhibition, by framing it in a way that was ambitious but with little by way of curatorial ego—and its optimism and empathy for the artist are a welcome invitation to see the world anew. Across the show, there are relatively few banner-name, crowd-pleasing artists, and happily so. In exchange, Marcel marshalled an enormous number of little-known artists into a survey with much excellent art.
In the end, despite Macel suggesting that this exhibition is intended to operate a few steps removed from our current, charged political landscape, her conceit is ultimately a political one. It is the radical proposition that humans should be defined not by arbitrary national borders but by shared experiences.