A Crack in the Hourglass

“A Crack in the Hourglass” is a transitory “anti-monument” in response to the pandemic and the ways it has halted public rituals of mourning. In this participatory artwork, a modified robotic plotter deposits grains of hourglass sand onto a black surface to recreate the images of those lost due to COVID-19. After each portrait is completed, the surface tilts and the same sand is recycled into the next portrait, echoing the collective and ongoing nature of the pandemic.

Soon, it will no longer be possible to delegate one’s death to others. It will no longer be possible for that person to die in our place. Not only will we condemned to assume our own demise, unmediated, but farewells will be few and far between. The hour of autophagy is upon us and, with it, the death of community, as there is no community worthy of its name in which saying one’s last farewell, that is remembering the living at the moment of death, becomes impossible.?
—Achille Mbembe, “The Universal Right to Breath,” translated by Carolyn Shread (Critical Inquiry 47, Winter 2021) Monuments and Anti-Monuments

General info

Spanish name:
La Arena Fuera del Reloj
Year of creation:
Sand, glass, robotic platform, cameras, computers, OpenFrameworks software, lights, anodized aluminum base, 3-D printed polymer head, electronic circuit, tubes, funnels, plastic valves, website
28 x 32 x 78.5 in / 71 x 82 x 199 cm
1 Edition, 1 AP



  • Design: Stephan Schulz
  • Programming: Stephan Schulz, Roy MacDonald
  • Production: William Sutton, Karine Charbonneau
  • Commissioned by: MUAC Museum (Mexico City)