The idea of time capsules as conduits of information between strangers over decades—or millennia—is something we easily wrap our heads around. But when the party bottling up today’s mementos and souvenirs agrees to reconvene 30 years later, crack open its own cache and explore past selves, the general idea of a collective future is suddenly replaced by something more personal—mainly thoughts of time, immortality, loss and change.
That, essentially, is the idea behind Time Capsule 2014, a social sculpture devised by New York-based artist Ash Ferlito, a recent UNLV artist-in-residence who introduced Time Capsule 2014 as a class project for her undergraduate students. The capsule—an oversize novelty martini shaker that sits in a sand-filled vitrine in the entrance to the Barrick Museum—is on loan to the museum for 30 years, fully documented and containing objects contributed by students and working artists based on four categories: cultural, personal, inexplicable and secret.
Part of the project’s aim was to have the participants consider the present, their identity as artists and their identity as a group, while introducing them to the metaphysical. The pact to reconvene in 2044 gave the project its power and magic, Ferlito says, “agreeing to meet knowing full well that life happens.
“It really brought up a lot of interesting confrontations with time and concerns and issues regarding life expectancy, hubris, the inevitable loss of loved ones.”
One student made small effigies of Ferlito and the students. Someone included a patch of animal fur. There’s a book, a small piñata, a USB image bank and a printout of the Facebook page announcing the time capsule’s May 14 dedication ceremony following Ferlito’s artist talk. Alisha Kerlin, an artist and collections manager at Barrick, included a life-size sculpture of a potato that serves as a fortune cookie.
In addition to Ferlito and Kerlin, time capsule contributors include Dike Blair, Domingo Castillo, Greg Sarabia, John Stoelting, Justin Favela, Lex Brown, Mark Brandvik, Pasha Rafat, Patricia Luisi and Richard Vanderstelt.
With the capsule dedicated and Ferlito having concluded her residency back home in New York, there’s little to do other than wait while life plays out. “As we continue our lives separately, the contents of the vessel have this life together,” Ferlito says.