From April 6 through June 2, 2013, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the San Francisco premiere of artist Christian Marclay’s internationally heralded masterpiece—and winner of the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale—in Christian Marclay: The Clock. Constructed from thousands of film clips indicating the passage of time, The Clock (2010) excerpts these moments from their original contexts and edits them together to form a 24-hour video montage that unfolds in real time. The work is synchronized with local time so that minutes and hours depicted in The Clock also pass simultaneously in the viewer’s real time. Spanning countless periods and genres, the work features time-related moments both iconic and obscure—often showcasing a clock or watch—ranging from silent classics and action blockbusters to Westerns and foreign films. Christian Marclay: The Clock will be on view in the fourth-floor galleries during regular museum hours, and is organized by Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at SFMOMA.
The exhibition takes place during SFMOMA’s final months in its current building before it temporarily closes for expansion construction and launches into extensive off-site programming in June 2013. As one of the anchors for closing festivities, a series of programs and events inspired by The Clock will count down the museum’s launch into its off-site phase. SFMOMA will also host several full 24-hour viewings of the work, including a screening every weekend in May; one during a free admission period leading up to the museum’s last days before closure; and a special screening for members. More details of the 24-hour events and closing celebrations will be announced in coming months.
In this opus magnum, created in an editing tour de force over three years, thousands of movie storylines seem to have shattered and been intricately pieced together, leading in countless narrative directions. The juxtaposition of numerous cinematic settings and periods both triggers the viewer’s movie memory and constantly references the passage of time. While viewers of The Clock may be drawn into the continually discontinuous narratives, the work serves as an accurate and functional clock in and of itself, conflating cinematic and actual time.
“The real-time experience of watching a constant succession of clocks, watches, and references to time is in such sharp contrast to the traditional film narrative that the result is mesmerizing and disconcerting at once,” notes Frieling. “With each movie clip and passing minute of The Clock, we are confronted with our passing of time while constantly being triggered to stay longer. It is the ultimate cinema experience, yet not as we know it. We can possibly call it a cinematic performance,” he adds.
Christian Marclay: The Clock continues the artist’s decade-long relationship with SFMOMA; his works have previously been featured in Long Play: Bruce Conner and The Singles Collection (2010); The Seventh Art: New Dimensions in Cinema (2002); and Sampling: Christian Marclay (2002) at SFMOMA. In addition, the museum presented the West Coast premiere of Marclay’s acclaimed multi-screen masterpiece Video Quartet, commissioned by SFMOMA and Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, in 2002 and now one of the cornerstones of SFMOMA’s collection. Video Quartet will also be on view at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University this winter (November 14, 2012–February 10, 2013).
About Christian Marclay
Born in San Rafael, California, Christian Marclay crosses the borders between genres and practices, combining and remixing aspects of visual art, music, and performance. Spanning three decades, Marclay’s oeuvre shows a deep and lasting influence of his DJ practice in its playful and surprising sampling, collaging, scratching, and composition. When remix culture started first in music in the late 1970s, he was among the first to cross the lines between gallery and performance space. As a pioneering turntablist, performing and recording music since 1979, Marclay made a significant impact on the new music scene. He has performed internationally, alone or in collaboration with musicians John Zorn, Zeena Parkins, Butch Morris, Christian Wolff, Shelley Hirsch, Günter Müller, the Kronos Quartet, Sonic Youth, and many others.
Constructing a musical composition as well as a visual narrative (with music as a theme or purpose) out of found objects, images, or sounds is at the core of Marclay’s creative process. From reassembled LP fragments to juxtaposed record covers, from sampling to remixes, the artist engages a range of diverse materials to produce new forms and thus new meanings. While he may appropriate fragments of other artists’ work to create his own, Marclay considers this process a form of collaboration. The topics of composition, appropriation, play and replay, fragment and narrative have been foregrounded in an unprecedented way by The Clock, which underscores Marclay’s complex notions of audiovisual composition and collage.
Marclay has exhibited his work in museums around the world. His 2003 retrospective, which originated at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, traveled to other North American institutions as well as venues in France, Switzerland, and England. The touring exhibition Replay, focusing on his video work, originated at the Cité de la Musique, Paris, in 2007 and was presented at DHC/ART in Montreal (2008). In 2010, the Whitney Museum of American Art organized Festival, a solo exhibition organized around Marclay’s “graphic scores,” works to be interpreted by musicians as scores for performances.
Lead Corporate support for Christian Marclay: The Clock is provided by The Charles Schwab Corporation. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by Lionel Conacher and Joan Dea.