Perfect Lovers (Forever), By Tobias Wong

I only met Tobias Wong a couple of times, but it took me aback to see so many people I do know were described or quoted in Alex Williams' NY Times piece as Tobi's friends.

Tobi liked to give other artists' and designers' work a sardonic or critical twist. But the first photo in the Times' slideshow featured a work that was different, an idealistic, almost geekily romantic "fix" of an iconic Felix Gonzalez-Torres sculpture.


Perfect Lovers [actually, Perfect Lovers (Forever) (2002)] is a remake of Felix's Untitled (Perfect Lovers), 1991, a pair of identical, white wall clocks which begin in sync, but which invariably diverge over time.

For his new and improved version, Tobi attached a radio receiver to each clock that syncs it with the official US Atomic Clock. They'll stay in sync within a second over a million years.


Felix made at least six of his pairs of clocks, which, if they weren't exactly self-portraits, referred to him and his partner Ross Laycock. Tobias's references the white version [on a wall painted light blue], which is now in MoMA's collection, dates from right before Ross's death, and is listed in Felix's catalogue as unique.

Before that, in 1990, Felix made Untitled (Perfect Lovers) with black clocks in an edition of three. The date given for those works is 1987-1990, which is probably to account for the existence of earlier work.

White Columns has a pair of white clocks hanging behind the desk, officially undocumented, it seems, which were included in a 1988 exhibition as coming from an edition of three.

And at the time of Felix's death, a 1987 work [officially listed as "additional material," not work] titled Perfect Lovers, was in the collection of his former partner Jorge Colazzo. It consists of a pair of wall clocks, signed, titled, and numbered, "1/3".

Knowing that Felix made Perfect Lover clocks for all his boyfriends [sic] throws a layer of complexity onto the typically poignant interpretation of the work: yes, they're identical and in sync (for now), but they're also mass produced. And replaceable. You can pick one up at the corner. Of these conditions, the one Tobias chose to "fix" in his version was the eventual slipping out of sync.

as always, an update: Turns out there is also an AP of the 1987-90 edition. And the Renaissance Society in Chicago has reportedly left their locally made exhibition copy of Untitled (Perfect Lovers), made in 1994, up in their offices. And in 2007, Glenn Ligon wrote in Artforum that he still had the Untitled (Perfect Lovers) he made in 1996, soon after learning of Felix's death.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: June 25, 2010.

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