This Giant Time

“We live in a time of giants”, writes Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, USA. With this Pyenson referres to the fact that whales could only have grown big as they are today after millions of years of evolution underwater. The history of our planet has never seen an animal as big as a blue whale.

Acting on this deep relation of time and the whale body, This Giant Time explores the historic method of using spermaceti, fat from the head of a stranded sperm whale, as material to produce a candle. Candles are among the first men made clocks as they contain an enclosed and predictable burning time. In collaboration with a clock maker, this ‘whale candle’ became part of an installation in which it functions as a time arm. Thus simultaneously touching upon two different perceptions of time.

The notion of potential lies at the core of the candle since it is legally prohibited from ever burning. The spermaceti for producing the candle was supplied by Ecomare -marine research institute on the Dutch island of Texel- under the legal condition of ‘caretaker-ship’ rather than ‘owner-ship’. Since sperm whales are protected by law this is the only allowed status for a person to relate to any whale material.

It is currently being explored by a legal adviser what the future of this artwork will and can be.
Installation. Spermaceti, wick, functioning clockwork with antenna. 170x70x40cm.

Thanks to the generous knowledge and collaboration of: Ecomare, Adrie Vonk, Gert Rosenbohm, Ursel Koop, Rudi Degeest, Bieke van de Sijpen, Fenna Koot en Puck Kroon, Stroom Den Haag, Creative Industries Fund.

©2024 Vibeke Mascini. All rights reserved.