Three exhibitions – Christian Marclay’s internationally acclaimed tour-de-force The Clock; a selection of dazzling projects by Josiah McElheny under the rubric Towards a Light Club; and More American Photographs – are open at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
This is the Midwest debut of The Clock, first shown at White Cube gallery in London in 2010. Marclay has seamlessly spliced together thousands of movie excerpts into a mesmerizing 24-hour video work that literally tells the time. Ironically though, the brilliant sequence of cinematic scenes—while each featuring a clock, watch, or other timepiece—invariably seduces viewers into losing track of their own time. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Charlie Chaplin, Nicole Kidman, and Robert Redford make “cameo appearances” as they check their watches or talk about the time, and London’s Big Ben plays a prominent role as perhaps the most frequently seen time-keeping landmark.
In a remarkable coincidence, Marclay presented an earlier project titled The Clock at the Wexner Center in 1990, a sound piece commissioned by the center for New Works for New Spaces, the third segment of the center’s trilogy of inaugural exhibitions. That Clock featured 25 hammering mechanisms that regularly struck the metal beams of the grid-like steel “scaffolding” on the exterior of the center’s Peter Eisenman building—in effect, transforming the scaffolding into a giant noisemaker that sounded once every hour, in time with other clocks and bells on the Ohio State campus. The project confronted and conversed with the Wexner Center building and its neighbors and—like the Clock of 2010—challenged us to reflect on both time and methods of tracking it.
Josiah McElheny: Towards a Light Club explores the history of modernist utopias in a series of kaleidoscopic projections, narrative films, stunning illuminated sculptures, and humorous performances. Towards a Light Club presents McElheny’s wide-ranging investigations of the work of the German expressionist writer Paul Scheerbart. From mesmerizing installations combining glass and other materials, to collaborations with artists, filmmakers, and poets, these exquisite artworks propose new perspectives on the age-old metaphor of light. Organized by Bill Horrigan, curator at large at the Wexner Center, the exhibition culminates in a “glass cinema” screening McElheny’s The Light Club of Vizcaya: A Women’s Picture (2012). A lush and evocative vision of ruined utopia, the film is a stylized adaptation of Scheerbart’s 1912 novella “The Light Club of Batavia.” (McElheny is a former Wexner Center residency artist and the film was post-produced at the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio.)
A catalogue copublished by the Wexner Center and Hatje Cantz accompanies the exhibition. Featuring essays by Horrigan and film scholar Tom Gunning (University of Chicago) and additional texts by eight other authors, the book also includes the screenplay for The Light Club of Vizcaya by poet Rachel Zolf, a short story by McElheny himself, and a foreword by Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin. The exhibition is made possible with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
More American Photographs features more than 120 works selected from the renowned Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographs taken between 1934 and 1944, juxtaposed with newly commissioned photographs of 21st-century America by 12 contemporary photographers. Select FSA archival materials, cameras, and two documentaries are also on view. The exhibition is organized by the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, and is curated by Jens Hoffman.
The 12 contemporary artists featured in the exhibition are: Walead Beshty, Larry Clark, Roe Ethridge, Katy Grannan, William E. Jones, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, Martha Rosler, Collier Schorr, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, and Hank Willis Thomas. FSA photographers whose works are represented are Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Gordon Parks, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, and John Vachon.