A Truly Exceptional Art Show Drops Today

The Clock by Christian Marclay is not only one of the most seminal works of art of the last 20 years...it's also loads of fun.

July 5, 2019

By Neal McLennan / Photo: E-Flux

Christian Marclay is a genius. And I don’t mean that in the sense that he’s got a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation (although he does have one of those). I mean when you experience his work for the first time the natural reaction is a to fall back a bit and mutter….”This dude is a genius.”

The first time I experienced this sensation was at the then newly opened Tate Modern several years back. I was with my wife, who has an unhealthy skepticism about very contemporary art. So when we walked into a dark room with four screens blazing movie clips, she was not in her comfort zone. But as we watched, clip after clip began to synchronize with each other, and before we knew it, we were in the middle of a symphony. And I don’t mean that in a pain-in-the-ass pretentious art way. I mean, he was able to get a series of perfectly assembled film clips (most from Hollywood films) that when played together formed a truly special symphony. An actual symphony.

“This guy’s a genius,” said my wife.

That work was called Video Quartet, and oddly it’s probably considered a lesser Marclay work. His magnum opus is The Clock, which opens today at the Polygon Gallery in North Van. I’ll let the museum describe it:

Recognized as one of the most important contemporary artworks of our time, The Clock is an audiovisual tour-de-force. Presented in a custom-built cinema within the gallery, the work montages film and television footage from the last 70 years. The time represented in each clip is synchronized with actual time, allowing The Clock to function as a 24-hour timepiece. Christian Marclay won the coveted Gold Lion Award at the Venice Biennale in 2011 for this now-famous artwork, recently presented at the Tate Modern, London.

The work is utterly amazing. You’ll be floored by the effort and detail that must have gone into it. And it’s still a rarity to see it—by my count, it’s only been shown less than 35 times since it was created (including at the aforementioned Tate Modern a few months back). Kids will love it (it features excerpts from Night of The Living Dead and V is for Vendetta amongst hundreds—thousands?—of others). Skeptical spouses will be converted. Lives enriched.

Admission is by donation (crazy, but great), the 54 seats are first come, first serve and you can stay in the work for as long as you like. Full details are here. I promise you if you’re there for 10 mins or 10 hours you’ll emerge a convert…the guy’s a genius.

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