ChristianMarclay's mesmerizing video "The Clock" was a standout crowd favorite during London's Frieze Week, with art lovers queuing up for hours outside Jay Jopling's White Cube gallery to watch a portion of the 24-hour film montage, which took Marclay two years to finish and is, as its title suggests, all about time. But people who did not have a chance to see the work in London — and White Cube stayed open until 2:30 a.m. to accommodate viewers — still have time to catch the video in New York, where it will be shown again at Paula Cooper gallery in January.
To "The Clock, Marclay worked with six assistants to painstakingly compile footage of ticking timepieces from several thousand movie clips to create a cinematic clock that allowed viewers to keep track of the real minutes and hours while watching filmic characters interact with time. From "Great Expectations" and "Mary Poppins" to footage from iconic Westerns and Angelina Jolie in "Tomb Raider," the characters parade across the screen looking anxiously at their watches, listening to the chiming of a grandfather clock, and in one case going mad from the incessant ringing of an alarm clock. Whether the clips involve synchronizing watches for a mission, running for a train, meeting (or missing) a lover, or scheduling a heist, time rules the screen. It is both the plot and the main character
The scores of gallery-goers who turned out to sit through long stretches of Marclay's video at White Cube suggest the artist has created an artwork in "The Clock" that is capable of breaking out of the often marginalized sphere of video art to appeal to a broad audience, not just denizens of the art world. Marclay himself — a Swiss American experimental music and video pioneer who first came to prominence in the 1970s with his turntable performances— seemed taken aback by the sensational reaction to the video at his screenings.
A functional clock that also raises philosophical issues about the nature of time and the way we experience it, Marclay's masterpeice is designed to be synchronizable to whichever time zone it is exhibited in. In January, viewers at the Paula Cooper gallery in Chelsea — which helped fund the creation of the work — will be able to tell how "The Clock" fares with the New York minute.