Kelani Abass, Casing History 4 (2016), 36x82cm, Letterpress type case and digital print , Courtesy the Artist and CCA, Lagos
If I Could Save Time… grapples with the ontological signification of time taking the invention of the printing press five hundred years ago as a point of departure and bringing it into the 21st century by highlighting the technological advancements that exist today.
In trying to collapse time by amalgamating the past with the present Abass attempts to make a statement of the future, that acknowledges the interdependence of different moments. One in which Time is process and reality, is abstract yet tangible, is conceptual yet solid, of history yet of the moment, existing in the past as well as the present.
As time unfolds, repeating itself in a continuous swirl Abass uses technology- the printing press as metaphor to negotiate and even to bypass obsolescence, bringing it into existence in new ways. To do that he has appropriated dated technology and materials such as printing cases and the stamping tool to create new meanings and narratives. In these two large scale pictorial installations Stamping History, 2016 the impact of time is embodied through the artist’s own performative process of imprinting the stamp on paper by layering and sequencing over and over again bringing into the present archival images of the past.