12 Months – A Year


As part of the online durational festival »It’s about time«.

»Time is something that scares me … or used to. This piece I made with the two clocks was the scariest thing I have ever done. I wanted to face it. I wanted those two clocks right in front of me, ticking.«
Felix González-Torres, 1991

»12 Months — A Year« is a durational film project by ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS made as part of the online festival »It’s about time«.

Starting in November 2021, Aslan and Gylee will create and release a five-minute film every month for one year. Each monthly chapter will be released on the final day of the month and will add to the previous films, accumulating in real-time. The full 60-minute work will be completed and released on 31st October 2022.

»12 Months — A Year« is inspired by durational artforms including the soap opera, the serialisation of the novel in the 19th century, films that stretch and compress time (»Empire«, »24-Hour Psycho«, »The Clock«, »Boyhood«), and the inevitably diverging clocks of González-Torres’s sculpture »Untitled (Perfect Lovers)«.

Simple questions with formidable answers: We ask who we are now, who we will be a year from now, and what the nature may be of the trajectory between these two points in time.

»This was fiction and yet no one knew where the story was headed because time was its unpredictable collaborator.«
Kate Kellaway, interview with Richard Linklater & Ellar Coltrane, 2014

ONCE WE WERE ISLANDS work in the fertile ground between disciplines, combining visual art, performance, choreographic methodologies, and research. The two performers, originally from Manchester and London, employ (auto)biographical narrative as well as meticulous research on the realities of Queer lives in their poetic works.

»I started out in search of ordinary things
How much a tree bends in the wind
I started telling the story without knowing the end …«
Bill Callahan, »Jim Cain«, 2009

»Sometimes you bend down to tie your shoe, and then you either tie your shoe or you don’t. Every choice begets at least two worlds of possibility. It’s possible, too, that there is no such thing as one clear line or strand of probability, and that we live on a twisted braid, blurring from one to the other without even knowing it, as long as we keep within the limits of a set of variations. Thus the paradox of time travel ceases to exist, for the Past one visits is never one’s own Past, but always somebody else’s; or rather, one’s visit to the Past instantly creates another Present (one in which the visit had already happened) …«
Joanna Russ, »The Female Man«, 1975

»The places we are born come back. They disguise themselves as migraines, stomach aches, insomnia. They are the way we sometimes wake falling, fumbling for the bedside lamp, certain everything we’ve built has gone in the night.«
Daisy Johnson, »Everything Under«, 2018

»We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is.«
Stanisław Lem, »Solaris«, 1961

»I seem to keep thinking things have already happened. When you asked if I remembered about the party and the ceremony, I thought you meant, did I remember having gone to them. And I did remember. I seem to have fallen out of time …The party and ceremony are tonight. In the future … In a way, I understand. But, you see, I seem to have gone into the future, too. I have a distinct recollection of the party that hasn’t happened yet. I remember the award ceremony perfectly.«
Michael Cunningham, »The Hours«, 1998

»‘Love’, this English word: like other English words it has tense. ‘Loved’ or ‘will love’ or ‘have loved’. All these specific tenses mean Love is time-limited thing. Not infinite. It only exist in particular period of time.«
Xiaolu Guo, »A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers«, 2007

»When was that? When did I stop getting old? Time passes by me like the wind. Maybe the cord that bound me to time broke when I lost my words.«
Yoko Tawada, »Scattered All Over The Earth«, 2018

»I believe in an alchemy of time … I believe we can make time … Does naming time generate time? Rehearsal is a great name for time, solitude another. Clock into darkness. Clock into leave. Falling, a time. What if we all agreed to live a year on moon time shunning the sun … The most crucial and most queer thing I can say is that these thoughts are all about that which is unseen in time. All that exists and goes unnamed, uncounted, disregarded. In a queer life you use and re-use shards of time, search out references, create your own constellation and pull small threads forward. You dig and discover all that was, in its time, against the continuity of its time.«
Every Ocean Hughes FKA Emily Roysdon, »Uncounted«, 2012-2015

»You know, I’ve got a funny feeling // I’ve seen this all before. // Why? // Cause I’m a caveman. // Why? // Cause I’ve got eyes in the back of my head. // Why? // It’s the heat. // Standby. // This is the time. // And this is the record of the time.«
Laurie Anderson, »From the Air«, 1982

»The threads of time have their knots and tangles, and every so often there is a symmetry, every once in a while something repeats, as if refrains and motifs were controlling them, a troubling thing to notice. Such order tends to overburden the mind, which cannot know how to respond. Chaos has always seemed more familiar and safe, like the disarray in your own drawer«
Olga Tokarczuk, »The Books of Jacob«, 2014

»The way one does research into nonexistent history is to tell the story and find out what happened. I believe this isn’t very different from what historians of the so-called real world do. Even if we are present at some historic event, do we comprehend it — can we even remember it — until we can tell it as a story? And for events in times or places outside our own experience, we have nothing to go on but the stories other people tell us. Past events exist, after all, only in memory, which is a form of imagination. The event is real now, but once it’s then, its continuing reality is entirely up to us, dependent on our energy and honesty. If we let it drop from memory, only imagination can restore the least glimmer of it. If we lie about the past, forcing it to tell a story we want it to tell, to mean what we want it to mean, it loses its reality, becomes a fake.«
Ursula K. Le Guin, »Tales from Earthsea«, 2015

»Something changed in the world. Not too long ago, it changed, and we know it. We don’t know how to explain it yet, but I think we all can feel it somewhere deep in our gut or in our brain circuits. We feel time differently. No one has quite been able to capture what it happening or say why. Perhaps it’s just that we sense an absence of future, because the present has become too overwhelming, so the future has become unimaginable. And without future, time feels only like an accumulation. An accumulation of months, days, natural disasters, television series, terrorist attacks, divorces, mass migrations, birthdays, photographs, sunrises … We haven’t understood how space and time exist now, how we really experience them.«
Valeria Luiselli, »Lost Children Archive«, 2019

Past Dates
  • Nov 30, 2021
  • Dec 31, 2021
  • Jan 31, 2022
  • Feb 28, 2022
  • Mar 31, 2022
  • Apr 30, 2022
  • May 31, 2022
  • Jun 30, 2022
  • Jul 31, 2022
  • Aug 31, 2022
  • Sep 30, 2022
  • Oct 31, 2022


As part of the online durational festival »It’s about time«. »It’s about time« is a Ballhaus Ost production. Funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds.