Saturday, February 16, 2013

"The Clock" Marathon

How much do I love Christian Marclay's The Clock? An awful lot. This article in the New Yorker is one of my favorite profiles and I reread it before taking the trek to the Wexner in Columbus. I first saw The Clock at the Venice Bienale in 2011. I was glued to the sweat stained Ikea couch for 1.5 hours and only pried myself away in the middle of the afternoon because there were so many other exhibitions to see. Long story short, I could have watched it for hours. Lucky for me, I had an opportunity this winter (and again in early April).

Waiting for Drew and Amelia to arrive - first clock portrait of the day on my microwave.

Counterclockwise from left: Amelia, Drew, Larry (he stayed home), Maura, and me leaving for Columbus.

Surprise, surprise... clocks available for purchase at the Wexner's gift store.

Another clock portrait (sparing everyone several others): Amelia, Maura, Corrinne, and Matt waiting for the conversation with the artists to commence.

Third row view of a conversation with Christian Marclay and Josiah McElheny. One of my favorite quotes from this event came from Marclay: ""when you deal with history, there is always a lot of fiction involved." I also enjoyed hearing how he initially wanted to present the piece at an airport or train station but that involved many restrictions and he refused to censor himself. Marclay also revealed that the couches are used as an individual viewing experience, not like the auditorium where we gather together to see a projection. The moment Marclay said "this is not a marathon piece," Amelia and I simultaneously responded with "sounds like a challenge."

I knew I wanted to see the second hand strike midnight. In addition, it was important to witness as much of the video past normal museum hours as future viewing can always take place from 11-5 pm.

How does one prepare for an art watching marathon? We put a lot of thought into this. It involved using the restroom prior to standing in line and a small bag of trail mix. One giant oversight on my part is that I didn't have dinner but after watching Hollywood eat repeatedly in front of me for 2 hours, I was very hungry by the time I left. I walked in with the mentality that I was flying across the country with a window seat and two people sleeping beside me that I didn't want to disturb.

It was difficult to see in the darkness but I managed to scrawl notes once I finally found a seat. Here they are transcribed below (as 5.5 hours was a very long time, my thoughts grow more brief and less coherent):

6:28 PM: First in line, two minute wait. 30 minutes standing in back of the room before I found a seat.

General Observations: I am surprised at how anxious this video makes me - I want time to move forward faster and faster and there is hardly any rest.

Knowing that Marclay made this in London with access only to videos and DVDs in the UK is informative. There are many English actors and film clips.

It is shocking to see how young many of the actors are (which made me feel older no thanks to the continual passing of time).

I love all the references to inexact time. For instance, "it's a few minutes past 7" is spliced in between transitions of 7:02 and 7:07 PM. Another small detail that occurred on a couple of occasions is people's encounters with clocks that are wrong and their overwhelming urge to change time (Marlon Brando was the first).

In the gallery: Logistically it is fascinating to see jockeying for seats. The noise from the reception is very loud and interferes with the sound. The couches are the same Ikea versions found in the Venice installation.

Frequent references: Flight delays. Who comes out at night? Super heroes, comic book characters, James Bond and Tom Cruise.

General Observation: I am thinking that Marclay can never watch a movie in the same way again. Does he constantly see new clips he wish he had included? Would he consider making this again in 20 years? If not, I am sure another artist will.

Oh yes. I remember why I hated Sean Penn so much when he was younger.

Frequent references: Dinner hours are punctuated by eating soup and the lighting of candles. Nokia flip phones.

General Observation: It gets dark so early. I saw the sunset at 6:45 PM and it hasn't been light outside since. It makes me think that seasons play a role in addition to hours. I only saw two references to daylight existing after 6:45 and they occurred at 8:07 and 8:58 PM and they felt out of place.

Ancient reference to the past: I had forgotten that there was a phone number you could dial with a recorded voice telling you the time (always used after power outages). Is that ever passé.

Frequent references: dressing up in tuxedos. Vincent Price.

8:09 PM: Charlton Heston put on an 8-track.

8:15 PM: Johnny Depp's first appearance of the evening.

People are finally done eating dinner (yes!) and now it's time to attend a play or the symphony.

Question: How many people still carry pocket watches?

General Observation: 8-9 PM feels so late in the movies.

8:35 PM: Johnny Depp's second appearance.

The Twilight Zone at last!

8:43 PM: A very young Eli Wallach with a mustache sighting.

In the gallery: At last it is quiet in the hallway. There is no line up of people standing behind me [later I learned from Amelia that Christian Marclay was positioned directly behind me for a few minutes].

Frequent references: Jimmy Stewart and Pierce Brosnan.

8:58 PM: My old Mickey Mouse watch arrives on the scene.

9 PM: Full frontal nudity.

9:04 PM: Amelia and Drew left for dinner. I am the only marathon runner left. There are only seven others in the room with me.

Murders are now occurring en masse. Funny how genres of films start to equate to times of day. There are very few Westerns scenes included in the dark.


General observation: This is my time of day but I do not relate to much of what Hollywood portrays happening now.

9:30 PM: out comes the liquor.

General observation: Starting to think of how few clocks I have around the house in comparison to what I see before me.

9:48 PM: Edward Norton's first appearance of two.

Bette Davis might be the woman that pops up most often. Also Naomi Watts.

Aside from drinking, night time provides many instances of card playing and eating straight out of the refrigerator.

Around 10 PM guns are now prominent.

10:01 PM: First execution.

10:04 PM: Oh how I loved Back to the Future when I was a kid.

Frequent references: nightmares, horror movies, tub soaking, and John Cusack. Also, the later it gets, the more older movies are incorporated.

10:18 PM: 3 hours and 18 minutes of sitting down. I finally stand up again!

General observations: So glad subtitles are never provided. The sound overlapping into each scene is indeed masterful [by this time Maura has returned and is sitting next to me]. One starts to think of clock styles after watching this for so long. Many people winding grandfather clocks and also featured are some gaudy (read hideous) versions from the 1960s.

10:25 PM I took the following photograph and later tweeted "I am the marathon."

10:44 PM: Another Johnny Depp sighting.

10:50 PM: The gallery is back to standing room only. An older woman who is the only one in this room that has been stationed here long enough to rival me, brought a neck pillow. Clearly, I am ill prepared!

Frequent references: Robert De Niro. Metronomes, hourglasses and swinging guillotine blades.

11 PM: So many people are asleep at this time in the movies (rather startling).

Question: Where are all the heist flicks? Those are always dependent on the clock.

11:14 PM: Cat count = 3.

11:31 PM: Really wondering if my eyes can handle watching a screen much longer. Growing very weary.

General observations: If people are not drinking, committing murders or sleeping, they are lying in bed watching television. There are so many stopwatches with animals on them. My favorite is a hen pecking the time that is featured at least twice.

11:40 PM: Godzilla!

11:42 PM: Final Johnny Depp sighting of the night.

Question: Do men still pass along watches to their sons as valuable possessions?

A few minutes to midnight: time to walk along building ledges.

11:55 PM: Moment my brother would most enjoy - Bruce Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk.

11:59 PM - 12 AM: Fantastic! Celebrations, explosions, murders, and numerous clock faces flashing by quickly.

12:05 AM: Calling it a night.

12:10 AM: The view while waiting for Drew, Amelia, and Maura to appear:

After hearing Marclay reveal that 5 AM was the hardest to complete, I am compelled to return and see the hours of 5 - 10 AM. I oscillated back and forth between finishing night but I think I want to witness the times when I am hardly awake. When The Clock leaves Ohio, I will have spent 12 hours in front of it. Chances are no other artwork will ever come this close.

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