Hanne Darboven

Born in Munich in 1941, died 2009 in Hamburg-Rönneburg

In her 12 Months, Work for Europe, installed in the lobby and press room of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Darboven commemorates 1997 as a ‘European year’ that represented a crucial stage in the development of the European Union. The days of the year are commemorated by sheets of paper arranged on twelve panels. Every day, the artist noted the date in numerical form on each framed sheet in an identical way. Hence, although the personal, handwritten character of the dates is preserved when the work is seen from a distance and the numbers are no longer legible, the overall appearance is that of a regular, rhythmic sequence.

This regularity is underscored by the arrangement of the sheets in groups of thirty-two on twelve vertical panels, one for each month. Darboven filled the excess areas on each panel with collages of photographs featuring the symbol of the European Union as it is printed on car registration plates. Darboven’s piece is a contemplation on time, a phenomenon difficult to represent in visual terms. Forcing herself to experience the passage of time in the meditative, disciplined act of writing down the date each day, the artist appropriated this experience of time and made it perceptible to the viewer in the form of a temporal grid resembling musical notation.

1997 was not only the ‘European Year against Racism’, but also the year in which the fifteen foreign ministers of the member states of the European Union signed the Amsterdam Treaty on 2 October. Particularly in the context of these rooms, in which long-term political concepts are presented to the press, Darboven’s reflection on the philosophical and historical dimensions of time forges a link between art and politics.