Biennale of Sydney

Martin Walde

Martin Walde, Timeline (May 6th 2071), 2018

Martin Walde, Timeline, 2006–18

Martin Walde

Born 1957 in Innsbruck, Austria
Lives and works in Vienna, Austria


Martin Walde’s process-driven practice exists at the nexus of art, nature and science, working across a range of mediums to create works that are simultaneously experimental and analytical in nature. Exploring concepts of time and the way objects occupy space, Walde’s works are often realised through active participation from the audience. Communicating abstract concepts in a multitude of ways, Walde encourages the viewer to reconsider accepted ideas and question their understanding of the materiality of the world. Since the 1980s Walde has developed artworks that consciously exclude explanatory texts on the basis that the provision of instruction manipulates the viewer’s experience. By deliberately creating ambiguous situations, Walde introduces an alternate reality where control and authority must be renegotiated.


In the Industrial Precinct at Cockatoo Island, Walde presents Timeline, 2018, an exploration of temporality that articulates a fictional future. Every six minutes an A4 sheet of paper is ejected from a printer mounted high up in the rafters of the building, each page floating through the air and settling on the ground in an arbitrary manner. The individual pieces of paper are printed with red numbers and letters denoting the day, month and year – a calendar that commences from the opening date of the exhibition and finishes in the year 2071. In Timeline Walde restructures and recalibrates the way we measure and experience the passing of time; a day passes in six minutes, a year disappears in a few days, and in two months we are already living in the future.

Some of the pages feature an intervention by the artist; a piece of text, a drawing or a diagram that references the geography and environment of Cockatoo Island. These mediations represent a script devised by the artist that, in meaningful and continuous order, communicate information about the world in the days, months and years yet to come. In Walde’s utopian future, the island appears as it did more than 250 years ago before colonisation. The artist manipulates the idea of time as a linear construct, travelling simultaneously forward and backward, merging a possible future and the distant past with the contemporary moment. Positing the idea that time has dissolved completely into a gaseous state, Walde hypothesises a new way of calibrating its duration, measuring time and history by temperature.



Presentation at the 21st Biennale of Sydney was made possible with generous assistance from Phileas and the Austrian Federal Chancellery

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