New York is a twenty-four hour city.
Which can make it seem like time doesn’t matter. Like we have no restrictions. We can order food, drinks, and sex to come to our door at any time of day. We can leave our apartments at any hour of the night and we won’t be alone on the streets.
Time doesn’t rule us. We live in the city that never sleeps.
Christian Marclay’s brilliant installation “The Clock” has come back to New York to play with this idea, this notion, that we—as modern humans—are outside the rules of time and nature and physics.
A year and a half after its original installation at the Paula Cooper Gallery, Marclay’s “Clock” can be seen for free in the David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center before it moves to its permanent home at MOMA. Marclay is a true polymath, having worked in many different art forms including sculpture, video collages, and musical composition. “The Clock” was hailed by some art critics as “the best picture of the year” when it debuted in New York in January of 2011, and it rises to such hyperbole as a work of art that is at times suspenseful, at times hilarious, and never anything less than relentlessly captivating. As the audience, sitting in a darkened room and feeling the minutes and hours sliding away, we are treated to a singular experience. Marclay has edited together clips of film so that—for a continuous twenty-four hours—every moment on the screen corresponds to the actual time. Each film clip references time either through dialogue or through a shot of a clock or watch or sundial. These were the artistic conditions that Marclay followed scrupulously, but within these conditions he has created something that transcends the physical limits of time and stretches into the metaphysical realm of the human experience.
Marclay’s “The Clock” tells us that, no, we are not beyond conditions.
We are set in a time and in a place.
Well, except that, actually, we are not in a place. The place doesn’t matter, the person doesn’t matter, those things are incidental.
We are only definitely in a time.
And that time is now.
And then it’s now again and again.
It is always now.