‘4.543 billion. The matter of matter’ is an exhibition that addresses works of art, collections and cultural histories in relation to ecological processes and a geological scale of time. It presents a continuum of materials and temporal landscapes – films, works on paper, photographs, sculptures, documents, and other meaningful things – and springs from the CAPC building’s former life as a warehouse for colonial commodities whose limestone walls were once deep in the ground and whose wooden beams were once part of a forest.
A central proposal of the exhibition is that works of art are part of geophysical history as much as art history. ‘4.543 billion’ attempts to take into account both a micro-local and a planetary perspective, and to rethink some of the histories of art as fragments of broader narratives about the Earth and how our place in it has been represented. What is at stake when art and museums take on greater temporal and material awareness? How might they move beyond a spatial framework of “think globally, act locally”, to “think historically, act geologically”?