Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (Part 2)

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“Everybody is concerned about time. You know we never have enough time to do anything, and especially to see art.” – Christian Marclay.

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

[Insert mandatory clock pun here.]

Well I got PLENTY of time to see your art Mr. Marclay.  Cinephiles of San Francisco rejoice! Christian Marclay’s The Clock is at SFMOMA through June 2nd, when the museum closes for those massive expansions you may have heard aboutThe Clock made big news two summers ago, when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale.  The 24-hour-long video piece has been heralded as a masterpiece of time-based media, and has been show all over the country (New York, Boston and Los Angeles) and the world (Russia and Israel).  Finally Norcal gets the opportunity to see this life-changing (I don’t use that term loosely) video piece.

My life was changed last year when I saw The Clock multiple times at LACMA—the museum purchased an edition of The Clock and had it on view during regular hours, as well as organized several 24-hour screenings. I went to one of the 24-hour screenings and stayed from 8:00PM till 12:15AM. This week, I went to SFMOMA and took in a mere two hours and 15 minutes of The Clock—from 2:45 till 5:00PM.  Taking in another chunk of The Clock allowed me to see how the work varies at different times of day.    SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Christian Marclay_The Clock_SFMOMA_Train Station_Marnie_Spy_Goldfinger_Nicholas Cage_National Treasure

Lots of trains, spies, and Nicholas Cage.

During this viewing I was more aware of the leading men than the leading ladies in the films Marclay strung together: Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and lots and LOTS of Nicholas Cage.  As in the 8-Midnight segment, between 3 and 5PM there were a lot of trains and train stations, lots of spies synchronizing their watches, lots of James Bond, lots of fathers giving their sons watches, and lots more Big Ben (which, in The Clock, gets destroyed at Midnight, courtesy of V for Vendetta).  Other things I was more aware of in the 3-5PM segment were multiple people using their watches to measure their own pulses; many record their pulse in journals.  I also noticed that Marclay had gleaned from an international selection of films.  In this segment there was more French and Japanese, and some German being spoken.

Christian Marclay_The Clock_SFMOMA_Mighty Aphrodite_Woody Allen_Pig Clock

Mira Sorvino’s amazingly funny timepiece.

As in the 8PM-Midnight segment, I was appreciative and entertained by the selection and combination of blockbusters, iconic films, and cult classics.  Marclay gives us Scarlett O’Hara and Mary Poppins, but also Amelie and Baby Jane.  Hitchcock’s iconic Marnie is tendered by the quirkiness of films like Election, Mighty Aphrodite, and even Zoolander.  With all these films used as raw source material I am curious (and impressed) to know why and how Marclay hasn’t been sued like crazy for appropriating 24 hours worth of copyrighted material.

There was also a kind of master rhythm in the 3-5PM segment that I noted in the 8PM-Midnight segment.  Naptime happens at 2:45 (but John Cusack doesn’t nap until 4:30).  School’s out for British children at 3:00, but not until 3:10 for American children and not until 4:00 for old-timey American children.  Afternoon delights usually start around 4:00 and end at 4:30, some last until 5:00.  Several fights (kungfu, fist, and knife) break out at 4:44.  Lots of people close shop or leave their office hours early around five till 5:00.  5:00 is officially quitting time and people punch timecards and flood out onto city streets.  I left the museum right after 5:00 and walked out into a sea of commuters similar to one I had just seen.  This is what is so great about The Clock: most of the activity featured in the work is so banal and typical.

This exhibition of The Clock at SFMOMA is funded by a number of donors, and Swiss-related organizations, but watching The Clock this time around, I wondered if this wasn’t a missed corporate sponsorship opportunity.  Would it be too corny, or too cause-related-marketing to try to get Rolex or even Swatch to underwrite the costs of exhibiting The Clock?

Christian Marclay_The Clock_SFMOMA_Screening

I foresee a lot of craigslist missed connections happening in this theater.

The theater where SFMOMA is screening The Clock accommodates only 81 people at a time.  To facilitate the anticipated lines SFMOMA created a twitter: @TheClockSFMOMA, which updates multiple times a day with estimated wait times.  SFMOMA has also planned special members-only screening events for The Clock.  These kind of events caused controversy when The Clock was shown at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where tickets for the debut cost $200.  Marclay has clearly forbid screenings to cost anything additional to general admission:

“It has always been my express wish that there should be no additional charge to view my work ‘The Clock’, over and above any general admission price to an institution or any other venue, nor should it be used in connection with the promotion, advertisement or sponsorship of any person or business. This is contractually agreed by all institutions who own and exhibit ‘The Clock’. It is my intention that my work be made equally accessible to all.”

Well I guess that explains why neither Rolex nor Swatch sponsored the exhibition.

– H.I.

LACMA_Academy Museum_Renzo_Piano_May Co Building_Oscar

Let’s find a space for “The Clock” in here.

P.S. It was announced this week that David Geffen is back in the museum-funding game, and donated $25 million to the planned Academy Museum, which will be house on the west side of LACMA’s campus.  Since LACMA already owns an edition of The Clock, it would seem a perfect if the work could be integrated into the Academy Museum, and perhaps function as a permanent time piece.  Just a thought, LACMA.

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