Currently showing at Parasol Unit is a solo exhibition of Belgium artist David Claerbout – ‘the time that remains’.
David Claerbout, Bordeaux Piece, 2004
Claerbout’s practice balances itself between video and photography, exploring the cross-overs and spaces in between the two mediums. The concept of time is always evident throughout the lens based mediums, the idea of capturing a moment or a length of time, the cinematic recreation of time, a suspension of time. Throughout Claerbout’s works our understanding of time and notions of reality and illusion are challenged. Below I present a brief overview of the exhibition examining these themes through three of the pieces.
We move through dark and light spaces around the exhibition, from the extremes of pitch black, to soft white, carpeted spaces with mesh semi-transparent screens. Stumbling into the dark, the first work we encounter ‘Orchestra’, a large-scale photographic lightbox piece, is located alone in a dark room. The work only becomes apparent once the viewer steps well into the space, eyes adjusting to the darkness, the conductor and entire audience stare back into the room, eyes fixed upon the viewer. Entering into the scene the viewer becomes the subject of the piece, shrouded in an eerie stillness, a theatrical silence, this all important encounter is at the heart of the installation.
The dark quietness of ‘Orchestra’ is mimicked on the first floor in the video piece ‘Sunrise’, in which we watch a maid go about her chores quietly in a modernist villa the middle of the night. The viewer again steps into darkness to watch this piece, the sound – just about audible- brings the viewer into the nocturnal scene in which the rest of the world, or at least owners of the villa sleep. Within the blueish grey hues of dawn, the maid finishes her shift, and cycles home on a country road, the sunrises in the background.
Light and time become the subject of another of Claerbout’s video work ‘Bordeaux Piece’. A drama unfolds on the set of a light airy white modernist house surrounded by lush green picturesque landscape on the outskirts of Bordeaux, France. This 10 minute scene is replayed over and over, yet it soon becomes apparent that the piece is not on a loop, but is instead a continuous 13 hour video work of the same scene staged, acted and shot over and over again throughout a single day. A strange telephone conversion, a broken teacup, awkward dialogue between the three actors, a betrayal, fists banging on a glass window, the mouthing of words I can never quite catch, the camera panning across the landscape, fade out and begin again. The repetition, actions, dialogue, become a motif as the gradually changing light starting from sunrise to dusk becomes the true subject matter of the work. The cinematic time deconstructed.
Read my full review here.