Wrong Way Time

Fiona Hall's Commentary on Media Morality

A stopped clock may be right twice a day, but can the same be said for the tabloid media?

This altered cuckoo clock was exhibited alongside many other ticking timepieces as part of Fiona Hall’s installation Wrong Way Time for the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. The Venice Biennale is an international display of contemporary art that is sometimes referred to as the ‘Olympics of the art world.’

Fiona Hall represented Australia with an expansive installation of found and repurposed items addressing global politics, world finances and the environment.  Part of the installation featured a wall of clocks; repainted and remastered, but still keeping time. The sound of so many clocks ticking away the hours in the exhibition space created an eerie awareness of the passage of time, and a reminder that in some cases, such as the climate crisis, we are running out of it.

Hall has recreated the face of this cuckoo clock with an actual face, closely resembling that of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch was the publisher of the British tabloid newspaper News of the World, which ceased publication in 2011 after it was revealed that it had illegally hacked phones and intercepted voicemails. The Murdoch press has a problematic monopoly in Australia that has given it outsized influence over media, business and politics. When Hall exhibited this work in 2015, the Murdoch media group was actively campaigning against the science of climate change and policies aimed at lowering carbon emissions.  They have since done an about-face and are now advocating for zero emissions by 2050.