Meet On Kawara, An Artist Who Obsessively Documented His Life For 48 Years

April 14, 2015 12:54 PM

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Meet On Kawara, An Artist Who Obsessively Documented His Life For 48 Years

For the late artist On Kawara, time is everything. His titles state as much. "One Million Years" chronicles every year from 998,031 B.C. to A.D. 1,001,997, written plainly in a seemingly never-ending cascade of numbered pages. Since 1993, the work has been read aloud in public spaces, by volunteers in Paris, New York, London, Amsterdam and beyond. One woman and one man sit at a table, each taking turns reciting one date after the next; odd years for him, evens for her. Half of the numbers are an homage to the past -- dedicated to "all those who have lived and died." The others are a nod to the future -- dedicated ominously to "the last one."

This explains what's happening at the Guggenheim in New York City right now. Walk by the building and you'll hear disembodied voices reciting years both familiar -- one thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine, the year we landed on the moon, and strange -- two hundred and forty-four thousand five hundr...

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