Sound and our perception and understanding of sound are central to the creative practice of the Swiss-American artist and musician. His collages, installations, photographs, videos, performances and publications are shaped by the principle of sampling and the appropriation and recontextualisation of existing acoustic and visual material. Musique Concrète, acousmatic music and the DIY strategies of Punk and Fluxus have had a major impact on his work.
Marclay’s exhibition engages with aspects of playfulness and chance in conjunction with music. At its heart are his video installation »Shake Rattle and Roll« (Fluxmix) (2004) and his new video “Bildspiel” (2015), produced specifically for the exhibition in Stuttgart. The video responds to the rich holdings of the Sohm Archive, one of the world’s most important collections of Fluxus material, collected by Hanns Sohm and presented to the Staatsgalerie in 1981.
Combining playfulness with institutional critique, Marclay activates Fluxus objects and a work by the Swiss artist Dieter Roth (1930-1998) from the 1960s. These objects, originally conceived to subvert time-honoured notions of art and high culture and to be used and handled by the viewer, are brought back to life by Marclay’s exploration of their inherent sonic possibilities. Disregarding their original purpose and instructions, he plays them like instruments and allows them to enter into a polyphonic dialogue. The importance of exchange for Marclay’s work is also illustrated by “Chalkboard” (2010), a large blackboard with musical staves, which invites visitors to pick up chalk and sponge and add their own compositions to be interpreted by invited musicians in a series of performances during the exhibition.
Also on show is Christian Marclay’s video “Mixed Reviews (American Sign Language)” (1999/2001), in which a deaf actor signs a text of sampled music reviews in American Sign Language (ASL). His animated gestures and facial expressions show that signing can be just as musical and poetic as any aural language. The video is screened from as part of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart’s series Videobox Silent Cinema (3 - 29 November 2015).
From 15 October 2015 until 17 November 2016 Christian Marclay’s “Video Quartet” (2002) will be on display at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart as part of the exhibition series “Sound in Motion. International Video- und Performance Art”. The four-channel video installation appropriates film footage taken from motion pictures within a timeframe from the 1920s right up until the present day. In the installation Marclay unites a variety of clips in which music plays a central role and in doing so forms his own composition. The 13m-wide installation is among Marclay’s most complex works.