Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’ starts ticking at LACMA today


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The 24-hour screening of Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’ (2010), a sampler’s paradise of thousands of movie and television clips depicting time’s passage over the course of a full day, is underway at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Shown in the Bing Theater, which seats 600, the free program began at 11 a.m. and concludes at the same time Tuesday morning. The Bing will remain open all night. LACMA’s Plaza Café will do movie house concession duty, remaining open continuously through the screening, while Ray’s restaurant and the Stark Bar will remain open until 2 a.m.


No word yet about whether or not Flavor Flav, America’s greatest clock-watcher (or at least wearer), will pop in for a look. But the program will be a rare opportunity for museum-goers to experience more than half of Marclay’s video piece, acquired by LACMA last month after a wave of publicity over its showing at London and New York galleries.

One difficulty of its public presentation is that ‘The Clock,’ in addition to being a representation of clocks ticking away in movies and TV shows, actually is one: By synchronizing its thousands of images with real time, so that 8:17 or 2:42 shown on-screen accord with 8:17 or 2:42 on your watch, the artist lets you simultaneously know what time it is in the program’s fictive narrative as well as outside the dream world of a darkened theater.

Since a stopped clock tells the correct time twice a day, does that mean Marclay used the same image for 8:17 a.m. as he did for 8:17 p.m., the same picture for 2:42 a.m. that represents 2:42 p.m.? I can’t say. Time, uh, will tell -- presuming one dips in and out of the screening day and night.

The clips last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, so don’t expect stopwatch precision. But after the 24-hour marathon, ‘The Clock’ won’t be available for full presentation any time soon. Beginning Friday and continuing through July 31 it will be shown only during regular museum hours in LACMA’s Art of the Americas Building.

So the 14 hours of ‘The Clock’ that record time between 9 p.m. and 11 a.m., when LACMA is always closed, won’t be shown. For the foreseeable future, your only chance to have a look is tonight, the wee hours and tomorrow morning. ALSO:

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-- Christopher Knight