Comfy Scandinavian-inspired couches are laid out in symmetrical formation in a large studio space. Columbo is on the screen and a wristwatch reads 11:24. I immediately check my cell phone for the time—11:24. Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) is a real time, 24 hour long film created from hundreds of clips from film and television that feature the passage of time. Marclay’s cinematic marvel is a who’s who of famous films and television shows. The different clips are seamlessly bound through Marclay’s consummate editing and the musical score.
Christian Marclay is a Swiss-American artist well known in the arts community for his visual and musical creations. His inclusion in the Walker’s summer exhibits is aptly chosen as he was interested in the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and 1970s that is featured in another exhibition. Known for his use of turntables, The Clock (2010) shows his musical skills in its masterful sound editing as a technique to bring unity to the film clips that take the viewer from Laurel and Hardy to Adrien Brody and Al Pacino.
The symbol that brings cohesion to the film is the use of time represented through its physical manifestations of clocks: wrist watches, alarm clocks, school clocks, and the Great Bell at the houses of Parliament. I wonder how many films have used Big Ben as an establishing shot for London as the tower was a constant presence and gave the film a linear connection between cuts from various movies.
As I waited for noon to strike, I saw Gary Cooper’s stern face and then fast cuts to other films; the musical score creating tension before the moment when the clock struck twelve. The moment seemed significant, a minute that captured the attention of actors and audience. Marclay is adept at creating suspense, humor and drama to keep the viewer’s attention. I would gladly have spent the remaining part of the day engrossed in this alternate film world, but alas the other exhibits had to pull me away.
The Walker is offering extended screenings of the film on select dates: July 10-11, Thursday 11 am – Friday, 5 pm; August 8-9, Friday, 11 am -Saturday, 5 pm; August 23-24, Saturday, 11 am – Sunday, 5 pm; and closing night, August 25, 5 pm – 12 midnight.
For more information, visit The Walker Art Center website.
Images via: Christian Marclay and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York