killing denouement

christian marclay’s clocks and photo ops
New York Brookyn, I love you, but i think it’s time to leave. Two or so years ago, I found myself wandering around Kreuzberg, with little to no German to my name, and hand signals aplenty. My roommate had booked a flight that was to land within an hour of mine; we were to Spring Break In Berlin! With all of the atmospheric expectations and faintly smug self awareness of the genre. Except—someone chose that day, March 11th 2009 to end their life by jumping into the path of an incoming train. She missed her flight, and I was left shuffling with just the LCD Soundsystem song burnt into a mental loop. and some vegan schnitzel to accompany me.

There’s a certain magnetism to this city. Drawing you in; pulling even when you’re away. The other song stuck in my head during that Berlin trip was Jimmy Soul’s “If you wanna be happy”—don’t know what that says about me. All those films and novels and short stories that are odes, love letters to nyc; where the city features as a third character, &c&c! (You know what else causes me anxiety? Semicolons! But also shady punctuation in general.)

As the visapocalypse dawns then, it’s time to get my baggage—material and emotional—in order. I had meant to write about Christian Marclay’s The Clock exhibit at length. The last Friday of the exhibit, at the Paula Cooper Gallery was of the beautiful 19° did-someone-turn-February-off variety. Wholly underdressed, then, I spent about two hours freezing in line on 21st and, essentially, the Hudson. One or many human popsicles? My friends grew tired and cold, and left about an hour in. About a half hour after that, I watched a group of kids swingdancing around and over Marclay’s Moebius Loop, a twisted amoebic wall of cassette tapes in the gallery’s front room. Somewhere near 4 a.m., I was shown a place to sit against the theatre wall, and time began again.

There’s been a flood of thoughtful reviews and analyses of The Clock, so I’ll leave it to those better equipped for the meta art-historical narratives. Its premise is, like many great ideas, simple enough. Each minute of the day is announced through a newly spliced film clip. A projected cinematic clock, synchronised with local time. The passive-aggressive digits of a morning alarm clock; variations on velvet stretches and “What time is it?”; shady parked car comic duo countdowns to some bumbling crime. Phones ringing on bedside tables and fumbles for the nightlight before answering, without fail. Insomniac and waking habits that make me wonder, is that how other people do it then?

It feels, in part and unsettlingly, like some kind of voyeuristic reality show. Like the 24/7 Big Brother channel in the UK, except with a look into households across the country. Across the world, I should add, with the token inclusions of oddly unsubtitled foreign language clips. At some level I can realise they’re perhaps filmic tropes. But then again, how many of our everyday gestures are appropriated from the screen, and in turn (re)absorbed and cycled back in? At about 6:37 a.m. I walked back out into my real life, and wasn’t sure exactly what was different.

Bled traces, perhaps. The images here are from Corinne Vionnet’s gorgeous “Photo Opportunities”:

Series of photographic works entitled “Photo Opportunities”, from hundreds of snapshots of tourist locations culled from the Internet. By collecting and then bringing together successive layers of around a hundred similar “photo souvenirs”, these images conjure up questions about representation and memory of places.

Thousands of google images searches, all layered upon each other to create a composite image. Through the eye of the tourist, perhaps, but at the same time, remade and reimagined at each click. Kind of hazy, like childhood, or what I remember (or want to remember) of growing up in Dubai.

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