Following an AUD$53 million redevelopment, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art re-opened, at the end of March, with a new exhibition called ‘Marking Time’. Featuring the work of eleven Australian and international artists, it shows the ways in which they visualise the conception and representation of time through the use of photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound and light.
I’ve only spent a brief period looking at the exhibition so far, but intend to return soon. There are some hypnotic works there, but the two parts of ‘Marking Time’ that I’ve spent most time with so far have been a weekly ‘workshop’ run by the Sydney chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and the Southern Hemisphere premiere of Christian Marclay’s remarkable 24-hour video work, ‘The Clock’, for which he was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist at the last year’s 54th Venice Biennale.
‘The Clock’ comprises of several thousand short extracts from cinema history, each suggesting or referencing a particular time of day or actual time, through the on-screen appearance of a watch or clock, or an utterance. Marclay has created a cinematic collage to form an amazing 24-hour sequence which is synchronised with the viewer’s time - I arrived at 6.30pm and this was the time referenced in the film as I sat down.
To have achieved this was a monumental enough effort on its own, but it is only after watching it for a while do you realise that the scenes were not randomly selected just to satisfy the requirement of a reference to the time in question, but that there are in fact narratives, and allusions to a previously featured film clip, or even a continuation of the clip. I have only managed a few hours so far, but hope to see as much of the entire film as I can. It is being played continuously during the MCA’s opening hours and every Thursday, for the duration of the exhibition, there is a 24-hour screening, with the museum’s café open throughout the night for those doing an overnighter. Last week, there were queues to get in during the late hours, and the cinema was at capacity (with an occasional queue) during my visit.
The free ‘workshop’, which is being held every Thursday evening for the duration of the exhibition, is called ‘Talk and Tinker’. The website describes it as a celebration of the history of time-keeping via an exhibition of clocks and watches, at which there is a master watchmaker for you to chat to, and perhaps show your own timepiece to.
As it turned out, it is not a workshop so much as a small exhibition run by the local members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, containing items from member collections. I didn’t get to meet the watchmaker, but I did get to chat to one of the volunteers, who told me that they have a very strong local membership, and that their monthly meetings routinely attract around a hundred people. We had a discussion about ‘watch’ versus ‘clock’ people, as it became evident that the focus of the NAWCC is more on the latter, and agreed that they are quite different breeds. He was a very welcoming, educational and friendly gentleman, and I enjoyed the exhibition, but alas my interests probably don’t overlap with theirs.
They were happy for photos to be taken, so without further ado, here are some of the items that are on display :
For more information about the exhibition, visit the MCA’s website here. It's well worth a visit.