At first glance, Breguet’s Frieze New York lounge on the 8th floor of the Shed looks like what one would expect from a luxury watch brand. A watchmaker and guillocheur, who flew in from the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland, are working hard at their craft. It seems like a very careful and meticulous process. Behind them, on a shiny metal wall, is an assemblage of clocks with a different city listed below each. But if you look closely, it’s actually Fear O’Clock in Baghdad.

Instead of numbers, the hands indicate various emotional states, such as “ecstasy”, “remorse”, “fatigue” and “longing”. And, apart from the actual metropolises, three of the cities are “El Dorado”, “Atlantis”, and “Kishkindha”. Chic and subtly subversive, the clocks are part of the art installation I fall in love out of orbit by the instigators of art Raqs Media Collective.

Somi Sim stands in front

Somi Sim stands in front of Raqs Media Collective’s I fall in love out of orbit installation on the opening day of Frieze New York. Courtesy of Breguet.

The work, a reconfiguration of a 2009 piece, was commissioned by Seoul and Paris-based independent curator Somi Sim, and is part of “Orbital Time,” a mini-exhibition within the fair. “Fundamentally, it’s about how we perceive time in the modern era,” Sim said. “We have highly developed technologies, but the way we perceive time and think about our future is unstable.”

Sim developed the curatorial theme by visiting Breguet’s Swiss headquarters and workshops. “It’s not just about a linear sense of time,” she explained. “But planetary times, solar time and astrology.”

“Perceptions of time can vary,” she added. “Even though we exist in the same space, different cultures have different conceptions of time. It’s fascinating.

Another piece from the Raqs Media Collective is featured here, a digital clock from 2009 titled Each time the heart skips a beat. It evokes mundane perfection but is actually glitchy and oddly hypnotic. “It’s about materialism,” the curator said.

Sim has been a fan of the band since he first saw their film a decade ago. “I dreamed of the day when I could put them in an exhibition,” she said. “They did a lot of work regarding the weather. But they still tell a different story, opening up a different type of conversation. It really touches me.

Ann Lislegaard, oracles, owls... Some animals never sleep.  Courtesy of Breguet.

Anne Lislegaard, Oracles, owls… Some animals never sleep (2012-2021). Courtesy of Breguet.

Sim’s selection is complemented by a video by a Norwegian artist Anne Lislegaard. After passing through a dark curtain, one is greeted by a large animated owl on an LED screen. Oracles, owls… Some animals never sleep is both comical and disturbing. The bird delivers a litany of tongue-in-cheek statements. “The artist worked on this piece for ten years,” Sim said, “constantly adding and fixing things. It’s an oracle that can predict the future. But it hesitates and tells us everything. So maybe that this symbolizes the way we perceive our time?”

A watchmaker and a guillocheur ply their trades in Frieze New York.  Courtesy of Breguet.

A watchmaker and guillocheur ply their trades in Frieze New York. Courtesy of Breguet.

Sim will adapt his Breguet curation project for the London, Seoul and Los Angeles iterations of Frieze. “For the next show, I’m going to talk more about the ‘endless present’ of our contemporary times. This is for the next phase. How exactly she will illustrate this with art, well, only time will tell.

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