Blog / Marclay: From Telephones to Clocks

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marclay_telephone_peopleBy Andrew

Christian Marclay’s most recent endeavor in video collage, The Clock (2010), has become the art gallery equivalent of a blockbuster film.

The Clock captivated audiences in London at White Cube last fall and has New Yorkers lining up outside Paula Cooper Gallery, where it is on view through tomorrow (Full Disclosure: Paula Cooper is a member of the Nasher Museum’s Board of Advisors). The work, whose appeal has extended far beyond standard art audiences, has drawn strong reviews from The New York Times, BOMB, and Art Forum. The work is a 24-hour real-time-specific video collage in which Marclay splices time-related clips from a century of cinema. If it’s 5 a.m. in the film, it’s also 5 a.m. in real life.

The work offers a high novelty value of recognizing film clips and experiencing time through cinema, but also delves into those essential questions of space and time. How does narrative cinema’s suspension of real time return to in fact serve us as a measure of real time? How do these flat, cyclical images compel movement when time is oddly still? How do the relations between images and audience and image create and challenge a sense of cinematic and real time?

Of course, The Clock, though notable for its breadth and time demands on the artist, is hardly unfamiliar territory for Marclay. His 2002 work Video Quartet was on view at the Nasher Museum in 2009. And once again, visitors to Durham will have the chance to experience an even earlier Marclay video collage in the form of Telephones (1995) when Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions opens at the Nasher Museum. Famously “appropriated” by Apple for the launch of the first iPhone, Telephones splices together cinematic footage creating an absurd conversation. In its 7-minute incarnation, it predicts the grand temporal scale of The Clock. Telephones can be seen alongside Marclay’s hole-pocked wooden flute Breathless III (2000) and a host of other works when Building the Contemporary Collection opens March 10. (The opening event is March 16 with a panel discussion involving artists Barkley L. Hendricks and Mickalene Thomas and collector Jason Rubell, also a member of the Nasher Museum’s Board of Advisors).

IMAGE: Christian Marclay, Telephones (stills), 1995. DVD, 7:30 minutes. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Christian Marclay and Paula Cooper.

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