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  • Writer's pictureNora Naeve

Tender Time

The Time Space Existence Exhibition was held in Venice from May until November 2023. Alongside numerous other institutions, MedeaLab from Malmö University had the opportunity to design one of the exhibition rooms. The project ran under the title Tender Time.

Starting in spring 2023, I not only had the chance to follow the project’s progress but also be a part of it. Our team of twenty people met weekly to provide updates on our respective tasks and to help and support each other as needed. My main task was to participate in working on “The Book of Regrets” which served as a guest book of sorts for the exhibition room. It was an A4 book in landscape format with a purple pattern. It showcased golden letters as well as the symbols of the Golden Record. Visitors were invited to share their regrets in the book and were also welcome to write comments on the project and how they liked the exhibition.

Cover of the Book of Regrets.

In September, I had the great opportunity to travel to Venice and take a close look at the entire exhibition with a particular focus on the room dedicated to the Tender Time project. Throughout the exhibition, there was a notable focus on architecture with a large number of models, sketches, and photographs depicting buildings and areas placed in various rooms.

The Tender Time room, however, was unique. The room was darker than most, with walls painted purple. A projector cast a video animation on the opposite and right side of the entrance, featuring the Voyager probe slowly moving through space. A blend of a wind-up gramophone and recordings of an audience sharing their regrets filled the room. On the left wall was a screen showing a short film, and in the left corner stood a black table with a piano stool in front of it. On the table was the Book of Regrets and a cup with purple pens, ready to be used.

As I sat down, a moment of calm engulfed me. Time seemed to pass more slowly as I looked at the book, about to open it. It was the third book; two of them had already been filled with regrets, comments, or other words and sketches. It is wonderful that so many visitors took the time to sit down, think for a moment, and write something. 

I leafed through a lot of pages of the book that had text on them until I reached an empty page on which I was going to write a regret of mine. It felt relieving, like letting go of the regret. But at the same time, it was a weird feeling knowing that now everybody could read what I wrote. I wrote the regret in a way that nobody could know it was mine other than by recognizing my handwriting. I saw that many regrets were written in such a way at that moment, as well as later in the year when I was back in Malmö and had the chance to look through the filled books. 

While reading the books, I realized that, even though each regret is unique in some way, there are similarities they share. They are unique because different people are involved in the regrets, and the unwritten stories behind the regrets are different each time. But at the same time, the same regrets are written by several people. For example, I read more than once that someone regrets not seeing their grandparents more often or cheating on their partner. People were writing that they wished they had traveled earlier or that they had not told someone how they felt about them. These regrets are ones that some people carry with them for a long time and might not even be able to let go ofeven continue to carry them.

Other regrets do not seem to affect people's lives for long. Some entries are regarding the choice of clothing on a particular day or regretting not eating an ice cream earlier. But even though people might not think about them later, it shows that regrets can lurk everywhere; they might disappear in a moment, or they might linger.

It is interesting to read other people’s regrets. On the one hand, it makes me wonder if I regret the same or similar things; on the other hand, it makes me think that some regrets are indeed avoidable. I am sure that I am not the only one who started thinking about regrets and life choices after visiting that room because, on some pages, people even started to comment on other regrets.

Being a part of this project was an exciting experience. It was interesting to see how a part of an exhibition is created. Working together with a cooperative team was fun, as well, and it was great to see the finished exhibition. Or better, to see the result of all the tender time and hard work the team put into it.

Editors' Note

Although, the exhibition in Venice is over, the Tender Time project continues. MedeaLab will hold a workshop at Malmö Konsthall's Verkstan under the motto "Hi from Planet Earth!" on March 23 and 24, 2024 from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. During the workshop, children will be able to write, draw, and sing messages to extra-terrestrials which will then be collected in a spaceship. Participation in the workshop is free.

Article and photos by Nora Naeve.

Book of Regrets cover and cover image by Amr Abbas and Nora Naeve.



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