Counting (for) Eight Hours

Ignacio Uriarte has created a new sound installation for the entrance lobby to the Berlinische Galerie.

This piece is a further exploration of work and time, themes that have been a distinctive feature of his output to date and have their roots in his own biography: Uriarte trained in business and worked for a number of big companies before devoting his career to art.

Office routines are a key theme in his oeuvre. While apparently designed to serve maximum efficiency, all too often they have the opposite effect: routine leads to boredom and leaves a little bit of scope for creative escape. The best example are those doodles people draw when on the phone, which Uriarte picks up in his “Xonox scribblings” (2008) and turns into a serial art object. He makes frequent use of simple office materials like A4 paper, printer cartridges and ballpoint pens, quoting the Minimal Art of the 1960s with his clear structures and dispensing largely with an overtly subjective artistic presence.

In his acoustic installation especially designed for the lobby of the Berlinische Galerie, the monotonous voice of a man is heard steadily counting away for eight hours. Strikingly, the units of time are syllables, each one lasting a second. In the course of eight hours the German speaker reaches the figure 3599. Uriarte’s installation is not only a reference to the span of time accounted for by a typical working day and the museum’s own daily opening hours. It also reflects the connection between time as an abstract category and language as a way of structuring and defining it.


Ignacio Uriarte was born in Krefeld in 1972. From 1992 to 1995 he studied Business Administration in Mannheim and Madrid, and from 1999 to 2001 Audio-Visual Art at the Centro de Artes Audiovisuales in Guadalajara, Mexico. Among the venues to exhibit his works are Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art; and The Drawing Center, New York. He lives and works in Berlin.

Implementation with the kind support of Ilse-Augustin-Stiftung