Wednesday, 25 February 2015



Actions: Spurt Splat Thwump Spish (2) Screen print and acrylic on canvas 210x279cm

I was rambling through the upper galleries in Tate Modern long ago when I came across a wide corridor thronging with young and old dancing to a very lively sound track. One wall was covered floor-to-ceiling with constantly changing clips from films. I hadn't heard of  the artist, Christian Marclay, described as Swiss. Things have changed. In the run-up to his present exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey one art critic placed him among the top 5 living artists in the world. Another said that The Clock (2010) is the greatest art work produced this century. (more of that later)

Actions: Froosh Sploosh Woosh Sskuusshh Splat Blortch (2)

At White Cube, Marclay's major exhibition illustrates his lasting interest in linking image and sound in startlingly original ways. There are works like the ones above, on canvas and paper, splashed with onomatopoeic words taken from comic books. He restricts himself to words suggesting the wet sounds associated when  brushes and paint meet: dripping, pouring, splashing. I have seen plenty of clips of the Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock at work but they begin to look like a silent movie in relation to what I'm looking at at White Cube. (Your only chance of hearing the words in real life might be when a small child smacks the bath water or douses an unsuspecting plastic duck).
Pub Crawl
 Marclay continues his liquid theme in other parts of White Cube. Pub Crawl is a video installation lining the walls of the vast corridor which forms the spine of the building. On early morning walks in  London's East End, Marclay coaxes sound from empty cans, bottles and glasses found lying around in the gutters and streets. We see boots hitting, crushing and rolling them so as to make a lively sound track echoing through the corridor. People walking from gallery to gallery through the corridor throw their shadows onto the streets.

Surround Sounds (2015) is different again: a large scale video installation projected across 4 walls. 'A dynamic choreography ...suggests the acoustic properties of each word.  'Boom'... is no longer static on a page but bursts into life in a number of colourful explosions, while 'Whoosh' and Zoooom' travel at high speed around the walls'.

Throughout the exhibition Marclay works with London Sinfonietto on a programme of weekend performances including new compositions and live improvisation sessions. A word of advice: get there early. We turned up one Sunday afternoon only to find a queue stringing across the courtyard out along the pavement .But you may, like me, be fortunate enough on another day to be in the gallery while there is a rehearsal going on. 

The Guardian's take on 'the most exciting contemporary art show in town': 

The Clock (2010) was constructed from thousands of film clips showing the passage of time. Excerpts took moments from their original contexts and edited them to form a 24-hour video montage unfolding in real time. It showed at White Cube, Mason's Yard, London  SW1Y 6BU
Watch it

No comments:

Post a Comment