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Christian Marclay

Video Quartet

11 July – 30 August 2003


11 July – 30 August 2003

An internationally acclaimed visual artist, experimental musician and composer, Christian Marclay has consistently surprised with his surrealistic musical objects, video installations, solo performances and large-scale collaborations involving musicians from every imaginable genre. Marclay's oeuvre resembles a Moebius strip, looping endlessly in upon itself to create ever more challenging relations, propositions and configurations between and within the respective archaeologies of music, art and everyday life. In his restless yet detailed explorations of the barely charted experimental terrain in which these parallel disciplines meet, Marclay fuses surfaces, textures, histories and frequencies of music in both material and sonic manifestations.

White Cube presented two separate, complementary exhibitions of Marclay's work in the ground floor and first floor galleries of Hoxton Square, which, together with a live performance by Marclay with the London Musicians' Collective, gives a broad sampling of the artist's constantly expanding reach.

In the ground floor gallery White Cube presented the European premiere of Marclay's epic Video Quartet, a visual and sonic collage that explores a kind of collective film memory, using extracts from well-known Hollywood movies, with an overlaid, sampled soundtrack. Of its first presentation in the US, New York Times art critic Roberta Smith exclaimed, ‘Marclay has never brought music, sound and image into such perfect, beautiful, funny alignment, nor conflated seeing and hearing so ecstatically… amount of naming names, identifying individual movies or describing scenes can account for the work's delicious, fast-paced flow’. For this work, Marclay collected thousands of Hollywood movie clips featuring images of hands on keyboards, horns and violins, as well as men and women singing, dancing and engaging in various other acts of making noise. Using a standard laptop-editing programme, he then choreographed the unaltered snippets into a dazzling dramaturgical flow. The resulting work is a seventeen-minute, four-screen DVD projection that brilliantly conflates levels of the real and the artificial from Jimi Hendrix in concert to Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, and syncopates explosions and pratfalls, lines up trumpeters, pairs piano-players, and strings together movie screams culminating in Maria Callas' famous high C. Video Quartet is a tour de force, an erudite yet highly spirited sampling of the history of music in film and film in music, from a master of the mix.

In the first floor space Marclay presented, for the very first time, a grouping of intimate "notations" drawn from different phases of his personal archive. Echoing his performative strategies as a turntablist, Marclay mixed unique works on paper - intricate collages, drawings, photocopies and other forms of graphic notation - with the snap-shot photographs that constitute his ongoing research into the incidence of sound as image in the everyday.

The London Musicians Collective presented Christian Marclay in concert, his first London appearance in twelve years. Using vinyl records as his ‘musical instruments’, Marclay mixed altered records on multiple turntables in a display of precise and abusive manipulation. His work can be seen against the horizon of John Cage and other such avant-garde musicians, where chance and space are welcomed as integral parts of a work. For Marclay, his procedural method is about ‘evolving structures where I can eventually lose control’, with his cut-up techniques and slash 'n' burn approach to vinyl transforming the way that music is understood, listened to, and made. An influence on every DJ in the world, Marclay is the acknowledged master of plunderphonia, radical mixdown and extended technique. Over more than twenty years, Marclay has worked with such experimental luminaries as the Kronos Quartet, John Zorn, Toshio Kajawara, Zeena Parkins, Butch Morris and Sonic Youth.

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