Paris

“Le Temps, Vite!”

Centre Pompidou

The Pompidou has reopened after a year of renovation with a series of shows, including one called “Le Temps, vite!” (Time, quickly!). The day I saw it, there was a long line of people waiting in the building’s new cafeteria, now located above the bookstore in the enormous entrance hall. Having no time to spare, I skipped lunch and went directly to the sixth floor. It was only on leaving that I discovered four hours had passed without my realizing it at all, save for some lightheadedness due to hunger.

As it happens, this episode illustrated perfectly one of the principal themes of “Le Temps, vite!”—that the category of time cannot be conceived unless it is inscribed within an existential experience. Indeed, the entire exhibition, presented at the close of the century and the millennium, offered a summary history of just such moments as a way of defining the ultimately indefinable entity

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