The Clock Part II : A 24-hour screening

Following my first viewing of Christian Marclay’s The Clock at Nottingham’s New Art Exchange, I had been looking forward to the full 24-hour screening last Friday which I mentioned in my previous entry.

Visiting an art gallery in the wee small hours added a surreal element to this already unconventional experience. At times, the clock inches slowly along before picking up the pace and moving to a crescendo, with the most dramatic moment coming at midnight (and there are a wealth of film clips depicting the New Year’s Eve countdown). The narrative – which at first seems deconstructed by editing full length films into short clips – is in fact created again under the new umbrella theme of ‘time’. Old and new are fused seamlessly together so that they both exist in a continuing present but one that is creeping forward leaving all the fictional worlds and characters in a shadowy past.

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Christian Marclay’s The Clock: New Art Exchange

This year, Nottingham is playing host to The British Art Show 7 , the five-yearly exposition of the best the British art world has to offer. There are some strong (and not so strong) pieces across the three sites (Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Castle and the New Art Exchange) which all make for interesting viewing.

But the stand out piece for me is Christian Marclay’s The Clock, a 24-hour-long film meticulously made up of film and television clips each telling the time, either with clocks or people announcing it and it is played out in real time.

Everyone will recognise at least some of the clips – from Laurel and Hardy to Twin Peaks right through to Inspector Morse and the X-Files. It cuts across time zones, genre, high and low art, comedy, drama and much more. But the over-arching theme is the perpetual movement of time. There are even some scenes where there is no clock – just someone looking at a clock – and it reminds us of how time structures and gives meaning to our lives.

Some of the clips also cross reference each other and although there is a sense that time is in perpetual motion, but themes and ideas – not least the over-arching theme of time – constantly recur and refer back to the past.

There will be a 24-hour screening of the film on 10th December from 10am. It finishes at 10am on 11th December and admission is free.

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The Genius of British Art: The Art of War

With Remembrance Day just round the corner, journalist Jon Snow’s polemic on war art – part of Channel 4’s excellent Genius of British Art series – was a timely reminder of the devastation of conflict (Sunday, 7pm).

At the beginning of the 20th Century, British artist Richard Nevinson, who was inspired by the Italian Futurists, initially celebrated the machinery of war as a testament to man’s technical achievements – until the human cost is counted and we see the wretched faces of wounded and dying soldiers lying on the battle field and in make-shift hospitals.

Fast forward through a century of war to Steve McQueen’s Turner Prize-winning For Queen and Country (2007) which depicts service personnel killed in the most recent Iraq war on postage stamps. And it’s powerful stuff –  the images that are repeated over and over again, the young, smiling faces, their crisp uniforms. The theme of the programme is clear and stark – war ravages lives.

Watch again at www.channel4.com/programmes/the-genius-of-british-art

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‘Flood’ by Susan Stockwell

During a brief trip to York last week, I visited York St Mary’s – an art space that makes use of one of the city’s many church buildings (www.yorkstmarys.org.uk).

The church is currently home to an installation called Flood by Manchester-born artist Susan Stockwell (www.susanstockwell.co.uk). Utilising the high ceilings Flood consists of old computer components cascading down from the roof like a stalactite. The installation was about contrast – the ancient and the new; the natural stonework of the church and the synthetic nature of the computer parts and the grey and the colourful. But the pairing was also incredibly complementary in both their vast scale and the sense that neither the church (which is deconsecrated) nor the computer parts are no longer useful in their original sense – but have both found new meaning in the 21st Century.

Flood is on show until the end of October.

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