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Christian Marclay The Clock

July 23, 2013-October 19, 2013
Location: Focus Gallery
Artist: Christian Marclay
Curator: Talia Amar
Media: Single-channel video projection, 24 hours
Christian Marclay’s video installation The Clock touches the very heart of time and transience. It comprises thousands of film excerpts relating to specific hours of the day, in which we are repeatedly told or shown (on clocks and watches) the exact time. In a virtuoso feat of editing, Marclay has woven pieces of scenes from different genres and periods into a 24-hour-long whole, to be screened in a space designed by the artist in synchronization with the local time of day. Thus artificial cinema time and actual time become one, creating a parallel reality.

One reason we go to the movies is to escape the tyranny of the clock and lose our sense of time. The manipulation of time – stretching it, compressing it, suspending it – is a fundamental part of the illusion created by films. Mining a century of cinematographic history, Marclay appropriates films made by others to construct a sequence of abrupt shifts, a viewing experience that is simultaneously entertaining and dismaying. It perpetuates the actors’ immortality on the celluloid screen while heightening our awareness of just how swiftly time passes, of just how mortal we are. With his myriad fragments of scenes (some extremely well known, others rather obscure), Marclay shatters the continuity we usually find in movies. Over and over, he arouses anticipation and creates suspense. Freed of story line, historical integrity, and coherent settings, The Clock fluctuates between triggering and defusing tension. Its film moments span a vast emotional range, played out in the present like an endless stream of consciousness.

The video work’s complex sound editing is no less important than the sequence of images. Marclay has always been fascinated by the connection between sound and visual art. In the late 1970s, as an avant-garde DJ and turntablist, he created experimental sound collages. He regards The Clock’s soundtrack as the “glue” that holds it together. Often the scene will change while the background music, conversation, or some other type of noise carries on into the next film fragment, suggesting a narrative flow between two originally unrelated clips.

The viewer’s first instinct is to try to identify the actors and the films, and then to grasp at some sliver of a coherent story, in the expectation that it will be developed. Gradually, however, a different type of viewing takes over, as the images and events on the screen find an echo in personal memories and associations. Aware of each passing minute, of the relentless ticking of the clock, we understand that fragmentary moments are all we can hope to perceive.

Purchased through the gift of the Ostrovsky Family Fund in honor of the Museum's 2010 Campus Renewal Project

Joint acquisition with Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Tate, London

Two 24-hour screenings of The Clock:

28-29 August, 5 pm-5 pm

24-25 Spetember, 2 pm- 2 pm.

After opening hours, free entrance, admission to the Herod exhibition IS 20