New York

McDermott & McGough

Robert Miller Gallery

Q: Why did the man throw his watch out the window?

A: He wanted to see time fly.

The joke depends on the assumption that it is absurd to defenestrate a timepiece. But perhaps it only appears absurd to us because we are unused to questioning time or challenging the conventions it informs. Walter Benjamin pointed out that during the July revolution of 1830 the insurgents began, spontaneously and independently of one another, to shoot at the clocks in Paris’ towers. Although most of us synchronize our watches, time has its dissidents as well: McDermott and McGough have never subscribed to any regnant form of time.

Animated by the conceit that it takes place in January 1915, this current exhibition of photographs represents a step forward chronologically from their previous camera work; the pictures of scientific experiments at the last Whitney Biennial, for example, suggested the 19th century.

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