Untitled (Perfect Lovers), 1987-1990
Wall clocks, 35.6 x 71.2 x 7 cm overall
Gonzales-Torres’s iconic work “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) is a pair of identically round, ready-made wall clocks, with their batteries synchronized to the same time upon installation. Although their synchronous movement seems interminable, the clocks eventually fall out of sync due to the mechanical glitches, and one clock ultimately expires before the other. Considering the artist’s relationship with his lifelong partner, Ross, who battled with AIDS for most of the 8 years they were together, every minute and second of time resonates with exceptional poignancy. At the same time, the ordinariness of the clocks does not readily reveal the subtle references contained within. The paired clocks not only symbolize the couple’s love, life and death, but their identical shapes also allude to homosexuality, expressing the artist’s subtle yet powerful statement against social prejudice.