One Million Years Press Release
January 14—February 14, 2009
David Zwirner is pleased to announce a new presentation of On Kawara's on-going epic work, One Million Years.
For the first time, the reading of the One Million Years will be recorded live, while visitors can view the process of CD production. Built inside the gallery space at 519 West 19th Street is a free standing recording booth, to house both the readers and a sound technician. CDs will be recorded, edited, and packaged on site. Recordings from the exhibition will be produced in limited edition CD boxed-sets.
One Million Years is a monumental 20-volume collection, comprised of One Million Years [Past], created in 1969 and containing the years 998,031 B.C. through 1969 A.D., and One Million Years [Future], created in 1981 and containing the years 1996 A.D. to 1,001,995 A.D. Together these volumes make up 2,000,000 years. The subtitle for One Million Years [Past] is "For all those who have lived and died." The subtitle for One Million Years [Future] is "For the last one." Documenting the passage of chronological time, each leather hardbound volume contains 2,068 photocopied pages. The size of each volume is 12 ¼ x 10 x 3 ¼ inches and weighs 8 lbs. 12 editions of [Past] were produced from 1970 to 1971, and 12 editions of [Future] from 1981 to 1998.
One Million Years is one of the artist's best-known works, as it speaks directly about what is relevant to us all: the passage and marking of time. In 1966, Kawara embarked upon his on-going Today series of date paintings, of which there are now thousands, each one consisting of the date on which it was made, meticulously painted in white on a plain colored background.
The first audio presentation of the reading of One Million Years occurred in 1993 during Kawara's yearlong solo exhibition "One Thousand Days One Million Years" at Dia Center for the Arts in New York. Visitors could hear One Million Years [Future] being read, while viewing One Million Years [Past] and a group of date paintings.
The longest public reading from One Million Years took place at Documenta 11 in 2002, where male and female participants sat side-by-side in a glass enclosure taking turns reading dates for the duration of the 100-day exhibition, switching between [Past] and [Future]. In 2004, the project traveled to Trafalgar Square in London for a continuous outdoor reading lasting 7 days and 7 nights. Since then, readings and recordings have taken place in cities around the world.
In 1999, Dia produced the first One Million Years [Future] CD (blue). In 2000, 9 fevrier and the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris jointly produced the first [Past] CD (gold). In 2001, David Zwirner produced both [Past] and [Future], numbers 2 to 6.
Subsequent productions were as follows:
Konrad Fischer Galerie/NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf, No. 7, No. 8 (2002)
Documenta 11, Kassel, No. 9-24 (2002)
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Berlin, No. 25-36 (2002)
South London Gallery, No. 37-38 (2004)
Akira Ikeda Gallery-Taura, New York, No. 39-50 (2005)
Martine Aboucaya, Paris, No. 51-62 (2008)
Lasalle College of the Arts/Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, No. 63-66 (2005)
Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo/Centro José Guerrero de Granada, Spain, No. 67, No. 68 (2007)
It is believed 2,700 CDs will be needed to complete the readings of One Million Years [Past] and One Million Years [Future]. On average, if 27 CDs are produced yearly, the entire project will take 100 years to complete.