Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Clock at SFMOMA

Line for the Clock at SFMOMAOn Memorial Day a friend & I met at SFMOMA before its 11a opening time & gamely joined the line to see Christian Marclay's The Clock, the 24-hour film mashup composed of movie clips depicting every minute of the day & synchronized to the real time. The theater only seats 81, & viewers may stay as long as they like. In a procedure only the Opera Tattler could love, visitors wait in line to be led into the theater in groups of 6. Once inside, you stand at the back until someone leaves & you can take their place.

It turns out that the museum opens at 10a this week, so we should have arrived even earlier. The line stretched between 2 floors, & the predicted wait of 2 hours was accurate. The gentleman behind us bailed after an hour. The audience occupies low couches that seat 3, & my museum companion & I were seated together, though there is no guarantee of this. People who fall asleep or attempt to record the film are ejected. Bathroom breaks are allowed.

The Clock is addictive viewing. Most clips last just a few seconds & could be anything from Charlie Chaplin to Ingmar Bergman to the X-Files. Marclay wittily connects the disparate clips. For instance, someone makes a phone call, & in the next shot a character from a different movie answers the phone. There is a fugue-like continuity. We occasionally return to the same movie, & sometimes the soundtrack bleeds from one clip into another. I had no idea where the vast majority of the excerpts were from, so I got a small thrill each time I recognized a movie or an actor. Nearly every shot includes a clock of some sort. I was simultaneously immersed in movie time yet aware of real time passing. Since we were there around midday, we saw lots of scenes of people at lunch.

Though my museum companion complained of being hungry while we were in line, he was so captivated by the film that he refused to leave after our agreed-upon 40 minutes. We happily stayed about 90 minutes. The Clock plays during the museum's regular hours, & a 24-hour screening starts this Saturday at 10am, during the SFMOMA's countdown to closing. Wait times are tweeted by @TheClockSFMOMA. I'm trying to resist the urge to see what happens at midnight.

§ Christian Marclay: The Clock
April 06 - June 02, 2013

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