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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born Mexico City, 1967). Documentation of memorial for Manuel Felguérez Barra in A Crack in the Hourglass, 2020–ongoing. Sand, glass, robotic platform, cameras, computers, OpenFrameworks software, lights, anodized aluminum base, 3-D–printed polymer head, electronic circuit, tubes, funnels, plastic valves, website. Courtesy of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo. © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: A Crack in the Hourglass, An Ongoing COVID-19 Memorial

October 29, 2021–June 26, 2022

Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia Gallery of Contemporary Art, 4th Floor

How can we memorialize and visualize the extraordinary loss of life caused by COVID-19, even as it continues to rage throughout the world? In A Crack in the Hourglass, media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born Mexico City, 1967) responds with a participatory, transitory “anti-monument” for the time of the pandemic and the ways it has halted public rituals of mourning. 

The public is invited to submit photographs of loved ones lost to COVID-19 at, accompanied by a personalized dedication, and to watch in-gallery or via livestream as a modified robotic plotter deposits grains of hourglass sand onto a black stage to recreate the image. After each portrait is completed, it is slowly erased by gravity. The entire process is archived on the website, and the same sand is then recycled into the next portrait, forming a limitless number of memorials and emphasizing the collective and ongoing nature of the pandemic.

Commissioned by the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City in 2020, this installation is the first live presentation of the work, offering physical space to collectively mourn and honor victims of COVID-19 in New York City—an area with one of the highest number of pandemic-related deaths in the United States—and worldwide.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: A Crack in the Hourglass, An Ongoing COVID-19 Memorial is organized by Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator, Photography, Brooklyn Museum.

The project was originally produced by Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in collaboration with El Aleph: Festival de Arte y Ciencia from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s (UNAM) Coordinación de Difusión Cultural. It has been presented in a remote, participatory fashion since November 7, 2020.

Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust. Generous support is provided by the FUNd.