As a student in art school, Christian Marclay, found more ‘energy’ in the music scene and got involved in music DJing more so than art, which he found comparatively more ‘stoic’ at the time, pioneering the technique of scratching, of using the turn-table as an instrument, in concocting strange sounds that fans enjoyed along with the rhythms of their dance music.
Lately his interests have returned to the visual arts, taking the Golden Lion Award for best artist at the 2011 Venice Biennale and making strange video/films to be exhibited in museums worldwide. What he does has in fact stayed the same; just as in the days of DJing for Hip-hop events, he takes source material, be it sounds or music from an LP, footage from a classic Hollywood movie, or video footage walking the streets of London, material that should be discarded and mashes it up, taking certain common attributes, linking them together and transforming it into something else in the process.
His most famous, notorious work, The Clock (2010) a 24-hour film made up of thousands of scenes from Hollywood films spliced together, new and old, in which any clock or watch scene showing the time, would correspond to the real time at the display venue, poses the following existential question: what if one could tell the time by watching a movie? Would the movie turn into a clock? Even though the plot had to be slowed down by having the time pass in the movie at the same rate as real time, but by matching the two together, the line between illusion and reality is blurred.
“The moment one thing transforms to another is the most beautiful moment. That moment is really magical.” Vik Muniz 2008
Since the Olympics are starting in Rio De Janeiro this week, I thought it would be nice to look at Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s work, who uses household materials to create 2-D sculptural pieces based on iconic pictures from art history or pop culture which are then photographed with a large format camera. These household materials, such as chocolate, syrup, cotton threads, sugar, caviar, scrap metals and finally plain old garbage create a kind of tension with the viewer, since, these materials are either edible, delicious, sweet, luxurious or disgusting.
Anyone who has read my other blog posts would know that Muniz is not the first nor only artist to use garbage, or to make an installation garbage-like, so what in the world is so interesting about this?
What I found most interesting from Muniz’s vast body of work is this documentary he did, or starred in, Waste Land (2010) directed by Lucy Walker, which depicts Muniz’s project to work with garbage and people who recycle garbage, who happen to be the lowest class of people in Brazil. The central premise and the purpose of the film is the question: Can contemporary art really change the lives of ordinary people, and by extension, change the world?