Never shy about her political stance, Beyonce openly endorsed candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, making clear her belief that the future is female. Her album Lemonade, which Beyoncé produced the same year and complemented with powerful video content, illustrates her feminist stance through explicitly political, but also personal references.
One of the most memorable scenes from Lemonade is the second song Hold Up. Here, Beyoncé elegantly steps out of a neoclassical building followed by an overflowing mass of water. Then, she jubilantly leaps onto a street, where she takes a baseball bat away from a child and begins to smash the windows of the cars parked on the side of the street. This unexpected twist of tone departs from the innocent ecstasy evoked in the first scene reminds me of Pipilotti Rist’s 1997 video work Ever is Over All. Here, a woman in a blue dress gleefully walks down a street before, all of a sudden, starting to smash cars’ windows with a long flower stem.
“Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternity – but ‘the superstars’ are fading.” – Robert Smithson
After having debuted last fall at White Cube in London to a torrent of critical acclaim and popular fanfare, Christian Marclay’s The Clock enjoyed no less flattering a response during its run at the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea. Indeed, few works on view recently in New York have attracted such a degree of attention. Arriving at the gallery at about ten after two on a weekday afternoon during the last week the show was open, I had to wait in line for more than half an hour to be admitted. Apparently the lines grew to at least two or three times that long by the end of the week.
So what was all the fuss about? The work consists of a single-screen continuous 24-hour video montage composed of a vast array of movie clips, with source films ranging from yesterday’s Hollywood blockbusters to early- and mid-century foreign classics. The scene in each clip occurs at a distinct time of day, which is made known to the audience by a clock in the background, the dialogue, or some other means. Marclay presents these clips in such a way that the time in each corresponds to the actual time of day in which it appears on-screen. So, for example, when the clock in the background of a clip reads 2:30, it actually is 2:30, and the time in whatever clip comes up five minutes later will read 2:35. The work is thus, to a certain extent, exactly what the title says it is – a functioning clock – although not the kind one would want to live by, for its references to time are frequently somewhat hidden, encoded, or otherwise obscured.