For Whom the Cracked Bell Tolls – Christian Marclay at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Christian Marclay, The Bell and the Glass, video, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

On my way to see Bruce Nauman’s video “Bouncing in the Corner I” in the PMA Video Gallery (definitely worth seeing, check sketches this week), I was ambushed by the new Christian Marclay video installation — “The Bell and the Glass,” part of the Museum Studies series that asks artists to create new work based on holdings of the Museum. I almost didn’t make it to the Nauman.

Marclay, a New York video artist and composer, worked with Relache Ensemble to make an homage to two favorite Philadelphia love objects, Marcel Duchamp’s “Large Glass” (at the PMA) and the Liberty Bell. Both objects are cracked and old, and both embody something larger than their makers ever envisioned — a kind of iconic heroism.

Speaking as one who’s fast becoming cracked and old, I endorse the concept of celebrating old, broken objects.

Beyond that, Marclay’s video collage — which samples from some of Hollywood’s smarmiest black and white romance flicks and mixes them with footage of Marcel Duchamp extolling the cracks in the glass and with some sexy close-ups of chocolate Liberty Bells being molded– is a whirling mix of love, implied sex, music and mouth-watering goo. It’s a Valentine even hard hearts won’t be able to resist.

(Music lovers, Relache performed several gigs in the gallery, improvising music that responded to Marclay’s video collage. All that’s left now are the music stands huddled around the split-screen video projections but it’s enough. You can imagine the rest.)


christian marclay, features & interviews, reviews, the bell and the glass



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