Installation view of Back to the Fields, 2016
Ruth Ewan is particularly interested in how ideas take shape and transform reality in specific contexts. Her projects are based on archival research, collaboration with experts, cataloging and resignifying objects and historical documents. Ewan uses these strategies for reflecting politically and critically in the present about the past of European modernity. Back to the Fields (2015-2016) refers to the French Republican Calendar, which existed between 1793 and 1805 as a way of organizing time based on rational principles, thus renouncing the religious influence of the Gregorian calendar. The year’s subdivision into days, weeks, and months was modified to a decimal structure and the names of the months and days were changed so that they referred to aspects of the climate and agriculture of each season of the year. The French Republican Calendar is made up of twelve months of thirty days. Each month is divided into three weeks, each week is ten days long. The final five (or six) days of the year are festival days. The numbers relate them to their corresponding day and month on the Republican Calendar. The work questions our relationship with time and life, when time no longer refers to any concrete experience with the natural world, making it an abstract unit of measurement for regulating our activities.