MFA installs Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’ film

By Maddy Longwell

Staff Writer

There is no need to keep an eye on the time at the MFA anymore: Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” can do that instead. From morning to night there are always a few visitors to be found sitting on couches in the Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery (gallery 259) in the contemporary wing.

As the minutes pass, so do the movie clips compiled by Marclay. In total, the film is 24 hours long and features about 12,000 clips. The clips span 70 years of film history and each one  features a clock or the time of day in one way or another; for example, in Night of the Living Dead actress Judith O’Dea announces “it’s ten minutes to three,” while other characters check their watches repeatedly, waiting for their lunch hour to come.


Source: Glenwood

Though each clip is unique, patterns start to emerge as the day goes by. Characters are often seen asleep or dreaming between 3 and 5 a.m., while they might be getting up around 7 a.m. or seen on planes, trains, buses, or in cars between 4 and 6 p.m. By 8 or 9 p.m. characters are seen heading out for evening plans and at 12 a.m., the film culminates in scenes from “The Stranger and V for Vendetta”.

Marclay, a Swiss-American visual artist and graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art, completed “The Clock” in 2010. The project was finished after nearly five years of work and a $100,000 budget, with much of Marclay’s support coming from the White Cube and Paula Cooper Cooper galleries of London and New York respectively.

Since its debut, The Clock has been collecting compliments. Meghan O’Rourke, who reviewed the film in 2012, described it as hypnotizing, and Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called it “a masterpiece of our times.”

The film has been shown around the world and is always adjusted to the appropriate time where it is being shown. Here in Boston, “The Clock” has been playing continuously since Sept. 17. This is the second time “The Clock” has been on exhibition at the MFA, the first time being from September to December of 2011. Although during normal hours visitors are only able to see a fraction of the entire film, extended viewing hours have been made available until 9 p.m. on select nights. In addition, attendees of the MFA’s #mfaNOW overnight program will be able to see the entirety of the film.

The final #mfaNOW event will begin at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, and continue through the morning of Saturday, Dec. 10.

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