Christian Marclay/Paula Cooper Gallery
Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film montage, “The Clock,” is coming to the David Rubenstein Atrium in Lincoln Center.
Published: June 21, 2012
This summer the city that never sleeps will have another glimpse of an artwork that doesn’t relent much either: “The Clock,” a spellbinding, time-telling 24-hour wonder of film and sound montage by Christian Marclay, the polymath composer, collagist, video artist and pioneer turntablist.
An assemblage of time-related movie moments that had its debut in London in autumn 2010, Mr. Marclay’s “Clock” is already a popular classic. It is also a functioning timepiece; a highly compressed, peripatetic history of film and film styles; an elaborate, rhythmic musical composition; and a relentlessly enthralling meditation on time as an inescapable fact of both cinematic artifice and everyday life. Perhaps the ultimate validation of appropriation art, it thoroughly demonstrates how existing works of art — in this case films — become raw material for new ones.
“The Clock” counts off the minutes of a 24-hour day using tiny segments from thousands of films. Bits of “High Noon,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Laura,” “On the Waterfront,” “The Godfather” and “A Clockwork Orange” speed past, mixed with early silent films and less familiar foreign ones.
As the action, music, sound effects and dialogue of one film bleed into those of another, each segment specifies a time, sometimes through spoken words, but mostly through shots of wristwatches, clocks, time clocks and the like. All are synced to real time. When it is 11:30 a.m. in “The Clock,” it will be 11:30 a.m. in the world outside. Exactly.
The first New York showing of “The Clock,” at the Paula Cooper Gallery in January 2011, had people lining up around the block in a relatively deserted west Chelsea in the dead of winter. Now, for 20 days starting on July 13, Lincoln Center will present the piece in a specially built theater in the David Rubenstein Atrium on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets. Admission will be first come first served in a setting — lined with movie-palace velvet curtains and outfitted with enormous couches that blur boundaries between living room and screening room — that accommodates only about 90 people at a time.
It may be a challenge to get in, even in the wee hours, which is when I want to go, but I intend to make every effort, and recommend that you do too. The piece will run Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then settle in for three 38-hour weekend marathons beginning at 8 a.m. Fridays and running to 10 p.m. Sundays. It will be closed Mondays and ends on Aug. 1.