Christian Marclay. Replay
Written by: Juan Albarran
In the work of Christian Marclay
(1955), image and sound are perfectly synchronized tools that the artist employs to think about the musical phenomenon influenced by pop, punk, Fluxus performances and the contemporary electronic trends.
One of his most famous pieces is Video Quartet
(2002), a projection on four big screens in which Marclay
recycles musical fragments from the extensive history of sonorous cinema. With these materials, the artist creates a new and fascinating audio-visual composition. The definition of the allegorist that Craig Owens
formulated in 1980 might be applied to Marclay
: “The allegorist does not invent images but confiscates them. He lays claims to the culturally significant, poses as its interpreter. And in his hands the image becomes something other”.
acts in a similar way, taking those sonorous fragments which he is interested in without worrying about its previous meaning or origin. Later, through a bold montage, he articulates an audio-visual stream that plays with references from our collective filmic unconscious.
A similar strategy of composition is developed in Crossfire
(2007), a video-installation in which the spectator feels threatened by the shots coming from well-known action movies. The guns turn into percussion instruments and the disturbing visual chaos warns us of the increasing daily media violence that we are suffering.
The work with a most explicit political content is, undoubtedly, Guitar Drag
(2000). In this video, Marclay
evokes the murder of an Afro-American man whose body was torn to pieces as the result of being dragged by a truck. The human body has been replaced by an electrical guitar that shows us the torture inflicted on the young man. The guitar emits a penetrating and heart-breaking sound while the surface is scratched and burned by the asphalt and the desert stones. In this video, Marclay
finds an effective way of thinking about pain of racism in North America (in this video, it is important to be aware that black music was fundamental in the birth of US rock music, which today stands as a cultural symbol).
In his works, he expands the territory that traditionally defines music, a gesture recently experienced in painting, photography or sculpture. The music incorporates those uncontrolled noises and eventful sounds that we usually reject (Gestures
, 1999), and even turn into silence, action or gestures that demand from us a different form of comprehension (Mixed Reviews