The Clock: Renowned film exhibit debuts in Toronto

Sep 17, 2012 | News

Power Plant director Gaëtane Verna is thrilled to welcome Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film collage

Christian Marclay, The Clock, 2010. Single channel video. Duration: 24 hours
Purchased 2011 with the generous support of Jay Smith and Laura Rapp, and Carol and Morton Rapp, Toronto.
Jointly owned by the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© the artist
Photo: Ben Westoby COURTESY White Cube

By Katherine Ward

Pulling an all-nighter has new meaning this fall at Toronto’s contemporary art gallery, the Power Plant.

The public art space at Harbourfront launched its newest acquisition this weekend, The Clock, a 24-hour film collage by multimedia Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay.

The work is considered to be “an ode to time and cinema,” according to a news release from the gallery.

Marclay spent two years compiling film clips featuring timepieces from various genres of film including Casablanca, Back to the Future, True Lies and Almost Famous. Lesser-known films from countries like Japan, India, and Canada are also featured.

The collage portrays every minute in a 24-hour period and has been edited and synched to real time.

“The magic of this piece is that Marclay takes a medium that everyone is used to, film, and then keeps our attention,” Gaëtane Verna, director at the Power Plant, told Humber News. “Each second you are wondering what is the next image and what does it mean with the one that was before.”

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In order to accommodate the exhibit, a number of structural changes to the Power Plant’s display area were required.

The work takes into consideration the exact distance from the screen to the first row and the distance between the rows themselves, said Verna.

The walls are covered in dark fabric to create a sound barrier and viewers sit on comfortable white couches.

Unlike a blockbuster hit, few copies of the clock exist.

The version being presented in Toronto is jointly owned between the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

“There are a certain number of screenings, and very specific periods that it can be shown,” said Verna. “While each museum has a copy of the piece, it cannot be presented at the same time.”

Only 50 people are allowed to enter the exhibit at a time and there is no limit on how long they can stay.

As a result, the piece is also famous for the long lines which travel with it between cities.

Columnist Sue Carter Flinn wrote in Toronto Life, “It sucks you in for hours at a stretch, even while accounting for every passing minute, making it the cleverest, most epic time-waster ever.”

The Power Plant will be showing The Clock with special 24-hour viewings for Nuit Blanche at the end of September and one full week in October.

It will also be available during regular gallery hours until November 15.
Admission to the exhibit is free.