We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted To Be

On 5th October 1793 the recently formed Republic of France abandoned the Gregorian calendar in favour of an entirely new model, the French Republican Calendar, which became the official calendar of France for 13 years.

Each day of the Republican Calendar was made up of 10 hours. Each hour was divided into 100 minutes and each minute into 100 seconds. Inspired by this historical model, Ewan created new clocks and altered existing ones around the town to tell decimal time for the Triennial in 2011. To accompany the installation, the artist also produced a booklet that further illuminates the utopian concept of revolutionary time.

This new clock means that there are 10 hours in a day, each hour made up of 100 minutes and each minute is made of 100 seconds. Midnight, therefore becomes 10 o’clock and thus midday becomes 5 o’clock.  Even though the republican clock lasted barely two years it remains a potent symbol of a historical moment in which time and hence the whole structuring of society was radically re-imagined. This had lasting and far reaching repercussions in Britain as well as France, which Ewan was keen to explore. The title of the work is inspired by the movie Bugsie Malone which includes the song; we could have been anything we wanted to be. The next line of this song is; It’s not too late to change which emphasizes Ewans interest in past failures and also possible futures.

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