Friday, September 24, 2010

Christian Marclay: Festival

In Festival at the Whitney, Christian Marclay joins image and sound to create video collage, collaborative performance, and installations. He also created music inspired collections and collages.

Most notable in this exhibition is his use of video and graffiti to prompt world renowned musicians to create new musical performances. During the exhibition, these musicians perform from musical scores collected from a giant chalkboard wall in the exhibition where the public can write, draw, or scribble on the blank musical staff lines. The resulting mini chamber-like performances are very random with a few musicians who astonishingly interpret this wall that includes a “score” of everything from musical notes to children’s scribbles. Somehow, these performers find a way to make something unique and sincere out of what would look like not much of a musical score.

A little less sincere are Marclay’s turn-table scratchings titled, “Selection of recordings: Marclay playing turn-tables”. These recordings are installed in a back room that is carpet lined, window lit, and comfortably arranged with couches. Looks inviting, sounds awful. Marclay’s rubbings on the turn-table are gritty, random, and annoying, turning away visitors before they could have time to consider the piece..the room was completely empty.

The collections of various objets with musical notes printed on them are quit charming. I felt like a quirky friend was showing me his neat collection of musical clothing, bells, tin boxes and such. Although, I would encourage this friend to stick to collecting world renowned musicians.


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  2. For your review, the full exhibition title should be used to introduce the reader to the show--"Christian Marclay: Festival." Titles and dates for the pieces described would also give your reader a better sense of the work you are referring to. "Chalkboard" (2010), "Prêt-à-Porter" (2010) and "Sixty-Four Bells and a Bow" (2009), were all discussed in the review without titles.

    While there are some rehearsals and unscheduled performances, it is important to know that performances happen at scheduled times-- they are not a constant happening. I found it surprising that during my first 30 minutes in the exhibition there were no sounds at all. Also, the performances do not solely come from "Chalkboard." Numerous pieces in the show are performed throughout the three months that the exhibition is on view.

    I think it was good that you described what visitors were adding to the music staff lines, I would be curious as a reader. Adding a few of the musicians' names who have/will be performing during the exhibition may also be beneficial to your readers.

  3. The things you mention are good. I also think its important to pay attention to the details regarding titles. There were a couple of inaccuracies and a typo or two. I would also have mentioned the onomatopoeias that seemed to play a large role in much of Marclay’s work, ie: the collages, the Manga scroll, and the photo slideshow, ‘Zoom Zoom.” Mainly, what I did not feel from your review, but what I personally took away from the exhibition was the sense of the obsession that the artist had with sound. It was an odd sensation to be looking at visual objects all about audible experience. Regarding ”Selection of Recording: Marclay Playing Turn-Tables,” I agree that it was terrible to listen to, but as a concept I think it was important that the room was sparse so that the visitor really had to engage in the sound. It felt especially uncomfortable because of the strength of contrast between the cozy, airy atmosphere and the jarring noise.