I know the week just started, but if you haven't got plans for Friday yet, you should head over to Paula Cooper's 534 West 21st Street gallery and stake out a seat for Christian Marclay's brilliant new 24-hour video work The Clock. The gallery has been converted into a darkened theater complete with a wide screen and rows of couches to showcase Marclay's fascinating piece that "draws attention to time as a multifaceted protagonist of cinematic narrative," (from the press release). The artist cleverly edited together excerpts from thousands of films from just about every genre and period to create a fabulous 24-hour montage which is synchronized with real time. Countless film clips referencing time, either visually or verbally, are arranged chronologically and paced to correspond with every minute of a 24-hour day. No need to flash the light on your cell phone to check the time in the gallery-cum-theater because the exact time is given throughout the film via actors stating the precise time or by shots of grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, wrist/pocket/Mickey Mouse watches, digital/wind-up alarm clocks, clock towers, Big Ben, etc, displaying the exact local time.
I checked out The Clock last Friday at 8:00 in the evening. The room was pretty full but my friend and I managed to grab seats up front. From the moment we sat down we were mesmerized. Scenes from old and contemporary, classic and commercial movies were spliced together to form an amazing and hypnotic composition. Moments of characters waiting, passing the time, asking for the time, discussing the time (all in evening scenes of course since it was after 8pm) were interspersed with quick clips of assorted timepieces from assorted films counting down the minutes, ie: 8:01, 8:05, 8:30, 8:50, etc. Though I could have sat there transfixed for hours, by the time 9:15 was displayed on the screen, my friend and I knew we had to pry ourselves away and head for dinner - but not without swearing we'd be back to see more.
This mammoth piece of work is wonderfully addictive and will undoubtedly keep film fanatics busy playing "name that movie." In under an hour I caught quick glimpses of a few of my favorites—In the Mood for Love, Trouble in Paradise, Last Year at Marienbad, To Kill a Mockingbird, and saw tons of others that piqued my curiosity. Screen legends like Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Gregory Peck, and Gary Cooper shared the screen alongside contemporary stars like Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, and Cher. Just trying to remember the 75 or so minutes that I saw makes my head spin. It was visual and pop culture overload - in the best way!
Throughout the course of the exhibition, Paula Cooper Gallery will show 24-hour screenings every Friday through Saturday (starting at 10:00am Friday morning running straight through to Saturday at 6:00pm). Watching the time pass has never been so entertaining. Check out Marclay's masterpiece while you've still got time! Learn more at Paulacoopergallery.com. Through February 19th.
Screengrabs of stills from The Clock taken from Paulacoopergallery.com.