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News – Rachel Kent talks about The Clock

Posted on Feb. 24, 2012 in Artist and curator Interviews.

Kelly Stone (MCA Public Relations Manager) asks Senior Curator Rachel Kent a few questions about Christian Marclay’s The Clock which will be screening at the MCA from 29 March.

Where did you first see The Clock?

I saw Christian Marclay’s wonderful video The Clock in Italy, as part of the Venice Biennale in June 2011. I had read all about it in October 2010 when it was first exhibited at White Cube, London; and I had a preview disc showing an excerpt of the work sent to me by the gallery, as we had begun negotiations about exhibiting The Clock here at the MCA.

Were you wearing a watch or carrying a mobile to keep track of real time?

Ironically I don’t actually wear a watch. They were never a part of my early childhood because my mother didn’t wear one – she claimed that she ‘magnetised’ them, so they would always lose time or stop. I was given my first watch as a teenager and treasured it. I do however consult the time on my mobile phone constantly, as I’m always running between meetings!

What time was it when you arrived? And how long did you stay?

I arrived at the Arsenale, where The Clock was presented, after lunch and stayed until closing time (5pm). I came back again the next morning. The problem with showings like this is that the venue shuts part way into the work. You miss the entire night, which forms a large part of it.

However White Cube facilitated a second presentation of The Clock in Venice, with 24-hour access, during the Biennale’s opening week so I returned and stayed for much of the night. I had to drag myself away before 3am, as I had a meeting at 9am and just needed a couple of hours sleep. And I set the alarm clock on my mobile to wake up.

Which famous movie stars did you see on the screen in the space of time you were there?

Oh so many… everyone from Gary Cooper to Charlotte Rampling, Bruce Willis, Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp.

What about sound?

Sound is a very important aspect of The Clock as it creates a bridge between so many disparate film excerpts – it’s the ‘glue’ keeping them together, according to the artist. It might be the sound of a telephone ringing, or a clock ticking or chiming, that leads us from one film excerpt into the next.

Did you always intend to include The Clock in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s opening program? It seems so timely…

Yes, while developing the idea of a time-based exhibition (Marking Time) for the MCA’s launch program, I came across The Clock and felt this would be a perfect way to expand on the theme of time and duration. Once I saw the footage, and understood how completely compelling it is as a work of art, it was imperative to give local audiences the opportunity to enjoy it too. The idea is that the two projects – Marking Time and The Clock – compliment and contextualise each other within the Museum’s launch program. And we’ll be presenting The Clock 24 hours weekly, on Thursdays through Fridays, for the entire season. That’s very important. On the note of time, it took over a year to secure and confirm The Clock for Sydney.

What do you think is the best time of day to see The Clock?

I think you should come in at any point, day or night, and then come back again – ideally it requires more than one sustained viewing. And there will be refreshments available for all the night owls out there. The British writer Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books says: ‘…you realise that The Clock is neither bad nor good, but sublime, maybe the greatest film you have ever seen, and you will need to come back in the morning, in the evening, late at night, abandoning everything else, packing a sleeping bag…’ That’s quite a recommendation.

Kelly Stone, Public Relations Manager

There will be 24-hour screenings of The Clock every Thursday during the exhibition.