Christian Marclay, A Retrospective – Stephen Horne

[Summer 2023]

By Stephen Horne

Centre Pompidou, Paris
16.11.2022 — 22.02.2023


There is a song written and performed by Paul McCartney in 1968 that provides a succinct introduction to the work and career of Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay (b. 1955). It’s simple lyric, repeated – “Why don’t we do it in the road” – and its emphatically handmade percussive elements eloquently propose the sense of improvisation and irreverence that has characterized Marclay’s art practice since his early days. Retrospectives devoted to his work have been rare, the survey form being something of an anomaly in a practice dedicated to spontaneity and “live” action and an aesthetic emerging from the punk culture of the 1970s. The claims made for an aesthetic of improvisation rest on Marclay’s use of concepts such as “play” and “live” paradoxically located within a context of repetition and technical reproducibility. That this Pompidou retrospective offers an invitation for viewers and audiences to reflect on these two terms as Marclay proposes them marks it as an exhibition of relevance, and we could even say, as a question of life and of death…

[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 123 – THE POWER OF INTIMACY ]
[ Complete article, in digital version, available here: Christian Marclay, A Retrospective – Stephen Horne ]