1673766566 Christian Marclay and Real Time

Christian Marclay and Real Time

Christian Marclay went from being a well-known artist to a very famous artist in 2010 thanks to The Clock, the monumental film that simply cannot be seen in the exhibition that the Pompidou is devoting to it (and of which they own one of the six copies). one-off issue). It is a voluntary omission and designed not to steal feature in a sample that has a selected review rather than an encyclopedic retrospective. In an interview with the catalogue, he himself says almost sadly that this is what the English call an albatross: a work so magnificent that it almost becomes crab-like and, with the unfolding of its huge wings, ultimately overshadows the rest of an artist’s career.

Despite her bad feelings, however, it’s impossible not to consider her the culmination, summary, and emblem of all the ideas that make up her work. It lasts exactly 24 hours and consists of films, a cut and paste with thousands of fragments in a collage that sounds and moves. Their stories intertwine, continue or cancel each other out. Throughout the century, around the world, from Godard to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from Bollywood to Hollywood, from Bette Davis to Brad Pitt.

There isn’t The Clock, the film that dedicated it, but his other great masterpiece, Video Quartet.

I was lucky enough to see it at its premiere at the White Cube Gallery in London in an uninterrupted 24 hour session without knowing what to expect. The scenes followed one another and little by little you understood that they were intertwined because there was a clock in each one. Cuckoo, wrist, sun, digital, on platforms or bedside tables, connected to pumps. Then something else became clear: the time they were marking was advancing minute by minute, shot by shot, film by film. And it was always the same time as viewers’ clocks, outside the film, in what, oddly enough, we call real-time: I fell just at midnight, and for what seemed like a minute dozens of filmed clocks rattled, beeped, chimed, cheered, and provoked the audience a kind of shocked excitement.

You wouldn’t take your eyes off the screen for hours, and that’s normal in a movie theater. But at the same time I thought about the time and felt it and saw it pass: and that is much rarer. Marclay denied the greatest pleasure in cinema even when he seemed to give it with full hands. His film did not serve to kill time, on the contrary: it revived dead time. His death was not only remembered, it was not only the subject of the film. It was the film itself: literally watching a film.

Christian Marclay and Real Time“Prosthetics”, 2000, by Christian Marclay. Christian Marclay Studio

The clock is a work that is difficult to display and see, making life difficult for spectators: they enter the room and lapse hypnotized, thereby being late for other appointments, or they have to organize and change their plans, get up early or stay up late, if you want to see everything. That makes it a sort of collective performance, disrupting the rhythms wherever it’s projected. It attracts crowds and miles of queues, and requires complicated infrastructure (for starters, 24-hour shifts by room staff at museums). In Paris, on the other hand, there were only a few people at this fair on a weekday afternoon. And that was fortunate because it gave the opportunity, over time and without stress, to see other works of his that would have left the wings of the albatross in the shadows.

The seed from which all his video collages are born is Telephones (1995), which lasts only a few minutes and uses scenes from American films to reconstruct a single and multiple conversations on the telephone: first those that ring, then those that are picked up, then those who are picked up, finally those who hang up. A narrative arc that is very simple and multiplies infinitely in our imagination in the thousand stories that it contains.

1673766558 966 Christian Marclay and Real Time“Subtitled,” a 2006 video installation by Christian Marclay. Courtesy of artist Christian

And here Doors, the film that serves as a mirror and logical conclusion to The Clock, has its world premiere: a loop with no beginning or end of scenes from 100 years of cinema, connected by the moment a door opens or closes. The clock forced us to rethink and feel time as the very substance of our existence, as a lens we cannot escape to see the world. Puertas does the same with space: he builds a kind of mental labyrinth, an imaginary and impossible palace of intertwined architectures and narratives that make us feel like we’re getting lost or going in endless circles.

His work questions the idea of ​​progress and advancement and resists the simultaneity of existence

In an earlier piece and perhaps his other great masterpiece, Video Quartet (2002), Marclay fused his two favorite raw materials, sound (in the form of music and also pure noise) and image. He used her to compose a kind of symphony collage for four screens and thousands of films, with her first scores and melodies, her overture, her crescendo, her apotheosis and her finale. As I left, several children who entered the room in the dark, almost without realizing it, began imitating the sounds and voices on the screens. The adults who accompanied them joked with them so they wouldn’t bother, and others asked them to hum and reconstruct the score in their own way.

Because these kids were certainly the best viewers possible. This instinctive reaction, this intuitive and personal way of appropriating and literally reinterpreting the work, is the ideal for all of Marclay’s work. His collages, his performances, his concerts and films question the supposedly mature and rational world view: with its approaches, knots and ends, with its spatial and temporal logic. Marclay examines the idea of ​​progress and advancement and contrasts it with the simultaneous nature of existence: something we cannot rationally imagine, but can magically envision and evoke through his work.

Christian Marley. Center Pompidou. Paris. Until February 27th.

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