Collections> Browse Christian Marclay

Collections> Browse Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay
Holdings (6)
1 multiple, 1 videotapes/videodisc, 1 multimedium, 1 sculpture, 1 unique works on paper, 1 book

Wikipedia About Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay (b. 11 January 1955, San Rafael, California, USA) is a Swiss-American visual artist and composer. Marclay’s work explores connections between sound, noise, photography, video, and film. A pioneer of using gramophone records and turntables as musical instruments to create sound collages, Marclay is, in the words of critic Thom Jurek, perhaps the “unwitting inventor of turntablism. ” His own use of turntables and records, beginning in the late 1970s, was developed independently of but roughly parallel to hip hop’s use of the instrument. Full Wikipedia Article

essay Christian Marclay, Walker Art Center Collections, 2005

Onstage or in the galleries, on screen or on turntables, Christian Marclay’s work methodically blurs the line between what is to be heard and what is to be seen. Since the early 1980s, he has honed his command of production and distribution formats (sound tracks, film, sculpture, installation, photography, publications). His samplings of sounds and readymade images have—with a loving disrespect for a tradition inaugurated by Marcel Duchamp, the Futurists, and members of Fluxus—eroded the validity of artistic disciplines and challenged codes of representation.

The installation Shake Rattle and Roll (fluxmix) (2004) reveals a critical and aesthetic practice that, beyond its site- or collection-specific context, is absolutely coherent with the program and the vocabulary Marclay has developed during the past twenty years. First, he identified hundreds of items from the Walker Art Center’s collection made by artists associated with Fluxus: George Brecht’s boxes, trick card decks, a green violin by Henning Christiansen, Ben Vautier’s chamber pot, object poems by Yoko Ono—in other words, a collection of mass-produced objects and performance relics that were intended to invade and humorously subvert a somewhat stilted daily reality. The paradox of their presence in a museum collection lies in the fact that their very purpose is negated by the anesthetic protocol of the vitrine, the “Do Not Touch” dictatorship, and the neurosis of the registrar’s white gloves. Marclay counters this paradox by questioning, with both sarcasm and subtlety, the validity of this kind of museo-logical embalming.

To this end, he decided to make music with the Fluxus works and to film himself handling each one and revealing its potential for sound. As he caresses, shakes, or drops the little relics of a past utopia, Marclay is both reviving and desanctifying these objects—desacralizing insofar as he attacks not only the museum as institution, but also the physical integrity of the items in question. But entwined with this is a reactivating process, as evidenced by the quasi-clinical aesthetic of Marclay’s film (white background, white gloves, white shirt), and the quasi-medical care with which he manipulates these deaf and silent objects.

Deliberately touching on absurdity, Marclay reiterates the urgent call to “stop making sense” reminiscent of the historical avant-gardes as well as of the punk attitude. By opening its doors to it, the museum had turned Fluxus into the fossilized icon of a bygone freedom of spirit, in spite of the fact that this movement always seemed to prefer liberation (a process) over liberty (an ideal). In the end, when Marclay extracts a plaintive sound from Vautier’s chamber pot, he may be inviting us, through an absurdist detour, to stay alert.

    Vergne, Philippe. “Christian Marclay.” In Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections, edited by Joan Rothfuss and Elizabeth Carpenter. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2005.

    © 2005 Walker Art Center