The World’s Longest Art Film

Installation view of Nanni Balestrini’s ‘Tristanoil’ (2012) film at Documenta 13.

Earlier today, my colleague Michael H. Miller noted that New York’s YesYesNo collective is planning to make the world’s longest work of art by installing light-filled balloons along Hadrian’s Wall in England, which spans about 73 miles. And so let us offer this note: if you’re in the mood for more record-shattering art, you still have a little more than three weeks to catch what may be the world’s longest art film, Nanni Balestrini’s Tristanoil (2012), at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany. (It closes Sept. 16.)

Tristanoil began screening at the start of the exhibition, back in early June, and has been running ever since. Its total run time is 2,400 hours (that’s 100 24-hour days), comprised of more than 120 10-minute video clips that a computer program distorts over and over again in new ways during the exhibition. To see how that compares with the history of lengthy cinema, Wikipedia has what appears to be a fairly comprehensive article, through the automated computer process that generates the film means there should probably be some debate about whether it belongs on there.

When I visited the Kassel train station where it is on view, undulating waves and blobs of color washed over a couple who appeared to be talking in a bedroom in some old film. It was not exactly one of the more compelling works in the show, falling squarely in the “someone had to do it” category—though it feels ridiculous to offer an opinion after watching about 10 minutes of a 144,000-minute film. (That’s about 0.0069 percent of the work.)

In other news about gargantuan-scaled works of art, over the weekend, Hans Ulrich Obrist mentioned in an article that a performance of a John Cage composition with no definite tempo—it’s called ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) (1987)—is almost 11 years into its 639-year run in Germany.

What is the longest or tallest or biggest work of art ever? How does one measure these things? Please do share your thoughts in the comment section below.