Mark Wallinger: Time and relative dimensions in space

At the end of the 1990s the Ruskin School of Art received funding from a variety of sources for a series of visual arts projects that collectively formed part of the Millennium celebrations for Year of the Artist. Year of the Artist aimed to raise the status and profile of living artists by placing 1000 artists in 1000 residencies across the country, taking them out of the traditional spaces usually associated with art and placing them in unusual and surprising locations.

Time and relative dimensions in space was the outcome of Mark Wallinger’s residency at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The Museum struck Wallinger as the sort of place that children love visiting, so he wanted to produce something that was playful and immediately engaging, but that might have some kind of poetic link to the institution. This idea became fused with the concept of the museum as a global repository of time and memory.

Rather than demonstrating these themes in an earnest or didactic way, Wallinger decided to make them manifest in an object familiar to him and many others of his generation from years of watching television: the Tardis from Doctor Who. In fact not just one, but two Tardises made up the work, to which the artist gave the title from which the acronym is derived.

The guide that accompanied the exhibition featured an essay by the art historian and independent curator Marco Livingstone, and the later mirrored version of Time and relative dimensions in space was one of the most talked-about exhibits in the artist’s show in the British Pavilion at the 49th International Venice Biennale of Art.

Commissioned by the Ruskin School of Art in collaboration with the Museum of Natural History at the University of Oxford and supported by funding from the Arts Council of England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Regional Arts Lottery Programme and Southern Arts.