Fabian Marti

We Know Time

in collaboration with Federico Spadoni


Video, color, sound, 

16:35 min

Ed. 5 + 2AP

Courtesy of Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich and the Artist


We Know Time is Fabian Marti’s first video work. It is also a key work for understanding Fabian Marti’s previous works. During the 16-minute film, which Marti calls „reversed Land Art“, the artist and a colleague become the protagonists in the desert landscape Joshua Tree near Los Angeles. In this almost theatrical setting the two appear from behind a large rock and climb a hill in blistering heat. A boulder is perched at the edge of the hill. It seems that just a slight push would send it rolling down the hill, but as hard as the two men try, they cannot succeed to move it. Without speaking a word, the two descend and disappear once again behind the rock from which they came. According to studies, the rock formations in Joshua Tree are over 80 Million years old. The intervention on behalf of Contemporary Art thus appears to be a ironic short-circuit of the concept of time. The last scene of the film is the same as the first. Once again the viewers are presented with an almost photogenic arrangement of landscape, with no trace of the artists whatsoever. Here another subtle allusion appears: During the last years, Fabian Marti, who studied Photography, has departed further and further from the classic genre in order to work more conceptually and installational. Photography however remains an important and recurring medium for Fabian Marti.

Fabian Marti

Sun Oh!


Video, color, sound


Courtesy of Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Galleria Fonti, Naples and the Artist


Fabian Marti’s multi-media-installation for the 54. Biennale in Venice The Summit of It consists of a an atrium-like walkable structure made of MDF which links two bodies of works - a video titled Sun Oh! , 2011 and a series of ceramcis, Philosophers and Shrinks, 2011. The structure functions on one hand as a black box in which the video is shown. It serves on the other hand as a pedestal for the ceramics. The presentation could be read as a manifesto of the concept of synchronicity and connectivity - terms naming an unexpected or unlikely conjunction of two events which appear to be related in a meaningful manner.


The MDF structure is build of pillars in variable hights and colors and might bring ancient temples or stalactite caves to mind. Some of the poles serve as bases for ceramic vessels and pots which are reminiscent of a cultic rite. They are striped in black and white, an aesthetic inspired by op art and psychedelic visions. The title Philosophers and Shrinks refers to a photographic work from 2009 which shows to ancient vessels „communicating“ together through black lines imposed on the found image by the artist. This topic is being now reinterpreted in a sculptural form through the clay vessels which are linked together by black and white tape.


Sun Oh! is shown inside of the MDF structure as a large format projection. The film was captured with the iphone during a boat trip in the backwaters of south india where Marti - sitting in the boat and gazing at the nature passing by - made a discovery that reminded him instantly of an experience by beatnik-artist Brion Gysin. While traveling in a bus to Marseille in the late Fifties Gysin had a kind of hallucination called forth through the play of light of the setting sun on an alley of trees. This discovery was the starting point for Gysins Dream Machine, a lamp with a flickering light effect. Without having planed it beforehand Marti recorded the completely unexpected scene of the flickering sunlight through the palm trees. Thus he spontaneously translated Gysin's experience into his own time. The interplay of the rich and luscious trees and bushes of the backwater landscape with the golden sun is like an ode to nature, a celebration of itʻs pure and undomesticated beauty. At the same time the parallel to Gysinʻs experience is being emphasised as itʻs own phenomenon. The pure contingency of the event is being followed and used in a way that conjures up the idea of synchronicity, a kind of alliance of two seemingly random events which seem to have a deeper correlation and meaning. Thus they imply a certain sense and signification in the accidental. Is it a hazard that Marti who had studied techniques of altering consciousness in his artistic practice for a long time found himself in this environment?


Karolina Dankow on The Summit of It, 2011 shown at the 54. Venice Biennale.