A good piece of art absorbs you, making you forget about space and time.
Except Christian Marclay’s The Clock which doesn’t let you forget about time for a second.
The Clock (2010) is a movie that directly relates to the exact time in which the piece is being screened. In other words, sit in the movie theatre at 3:03am and the scenes you’ll see are from many movies where someone references that time or a clock is seen showing 3:03am.
This editorial feat (to be particularly appreciated by anyone who has ever edited a movie) is a 24-hour movie made up of thousands of excerpts from movies across different cultures and eras.
During work breaks at the Israel Museum, I take the opportunity to visit The Clock. I walk up to the little theatre created for this piece, sit on one of the comfy white couches set out facing the screen, and allow myself to not get lost in time but to definitely get pulled into the story lines woven into one another, with music from a black-and-white movie overlapping into a colour film, a woman looking up in one movie to a clock tower in a different movie. And on and on.
Every time I’ve gone it has (purposely) been a different time of day. My favourite so far has been high noon. This is usually a dramatic time of day in cinema and it is a touching one in Marclay’s piece. Suspenseful music plays as people across many years and nations wait expectantly for the news or event to transpire at this auspicious hour. At noon, clocks around the world and over the course of cinema history chime in unison.
I always go in for five or 10 minutes at a time, knowing it’s unnecessary for me to look at my watch. We’re so used to losing track of time while watching a movie but here you always know the exact time. It’s the dissonance of getting pulled into a piece of art while simultaneously being reminded every few seconds exactly when you are in your real life.
Special 24-hour viewing
The movie which is normally only accessible during regular museum hours is open for a 24-hour viewing over Sukkot (2013). From 2pm on Tuesday, September 24 until 2pm Wednesday, September 25, there is one complete 24-hour screening. Yes, you can come hang out in the theatre (for free) at 3am, 5am, whenever.
Will you venture out to see parts of The Clock that most people never get to experience?