After knocking the art world’s socks off with showings in London, New York and Boston, Christian Marclay’s acclaimed video work The Clock comes to Montreal, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, until April 20. The video work is shown on a cinema-sized screen in a darkened room, much like a movie theatre, if it weren’t for the designer couches that take the place of your average theatre seats. As you sink in to your seat and start absorbing the atmospheric pastiche, you’ll quickly notice the reason for the work’s title.
Composed of thousands of clips taken from movies and TV series reshuffled and stuck together to form their own distinct narrative, the piece features clocks in almost every scene selected. Some are in the background (a school clock on a wall), some in close-ups (an alarm clock on a side-table) – but all are significant. After a few minutes of watching, another thing becomes clear: the time indicated on those clocks represents the actual real time. The Clock is effectively a real-world 24-hour timepiece.
What’s incredible about the piece is its complete addictiveness. Christian Marclay has long been renowned for putting the entertainment back into highbrow art, whether it’s in his deconstruction and reconstruction of sound pieces – music is one of his central themes – or in other ambitious video works like this one. You’d think The Clock could get boring, though – you’re basically watching time pass by, quite literally. But it’s the furthest thing. Marclay is king at making the most of loaded moments in the history of cinema. From 1940s Humphrey Bogart to 1990s Kurt Russel, the protagonists of this newfangled video all become players in a giant web of mystery and suspense. So while The Clock may be a soliloquy on contemporary time wastage, it’s also the most irresistible watching experience in any museum – ever.
In addition to offering access every day within opening hours, the MACM is holding five 24-showings between now and April 20, for night owls: February 21, March 1, March 7, April 4 and April 19. Come one, come all.
The Clock, until April 20, 2014
Photos credit: Christian Marclay, courtesy White Cube, London and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
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