Christian Marclay’s The Clock, 24-hour Movie at the MoMA

Christian Marclay's The Clock in Lincoln Center

Christian Marclay's 24-hour film The Clock is one the best, most amazing art pieces we've ever seen. Though admittedly, we've only seen about eight and half hours of it so far- but still! Marclay's The Clock is a totally brilliant montage of brief moments, usually measured in seconds, from literally thousands of movies from the entire 100-plus year history of film, each scene depicting the minute-by-minute passage of time throughout an entire day. Here's the kicker: the time on the screen, whether shown on some sort of timepiece or spoken by a character, coincides with the exact, actual time in the real world, the one in which we're sitting, watching The Clock. All of which would be cool enough, but Marclay's The Clock is also consistently surprising and creative, technically flawless, often quite funny, and relentlessly entertaining. 

Christian Marclay's The Clock NYC Chelsea

The Clock is Ticking, Don't Miss it!

Anyway, if you missed seeing any or all of Christian Marclay's The Clock in February of 2011 at Chelsea's Paula Cooper Gallery (which is when we first saw it), or at Lincoln Center this past summer, the excellent news is that it's back here in New York City, showing at MoMA through January 21. And because The Clock is a 24-hour-long work of art (though it can be equally appreciated in much, much shorter stretches), MoMA is staying open straight through each weekend for the duration of its run. Yes, lines have been long, sometimes hours-long, and are likely to stay that way throughout the month. But here's a possible tip: when we were at MoMA last Thursday at around 3:30, the wait was only about 20 minutes, we guess because the museum was closing in a couple of hours. So if want to just get a sample of Marclay's The Clock, especially if you have MoMA membership and so don't have to pay the $25 entrance fee, this might be the way to go. 

Christian Marclay Clock NYC Paula Cooper

Every Second's Accounted for in this 24 Hour Film

Really, we can't praise Marclay's The Clock highly enough. Just the sheer variety of ways the time is depicted is so clever and fun. Sometimes it's in a moment integral to the chosen movie's plot (a character shouts: "It's 3:42, we're LATE!"); in other clips the time is shown in some random clock in the background of scene, and has nothing to do with the narrative. London's Big Ben, by the way, is definitely the biggest star in the 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight segment that we've seen. But Marclay's The Clock is also ingenious in combining scenes by location. A woman in a 1930s drama opens the door and enters an office, say, and a man in a 1980s comedy takes her place inside the space. Marclay also combines by theme, lots of running-to-catch-trains/planes sequences. The stitched-together score flows perfectly with the mood on the screen. Marclay even throws in lots of jokes, as when a clock will be shown that seems to be the WRONG TIME and there's a moment of panic in the audience (did he blow it!?), but then a character reaches in, moves the hands, saves the day. A masterpiece. 

A sign promoting the Christian Marclay The Clock exhibit at the MoMa in NYC

Christian Marclay's The Clock at MoMA

Christian Marclay's 24-hour film The Clock will be at the Museum of Modern Art through January 21. It will be shown during regular MoMA hours during the week, and straight through the night on Fridays and Saturday. Wait times are hard to predict. For more information about the special hours and viewing-room rules, visit the MoMa online!

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