On May 14, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art reopened its doors for the first time since June 2013. Before they closed, the museum held a four-day-long marathon of being open continuously. In addition to the provocative lure of partying in the galleries at 3am, one of the biggest draws for attendees was seeing Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), a 24-hour-long film made of clips from innumerable movies that showed every minute of a day, synced to local time.
It was a hit in San Francisco, just as it’s been a hit in other cities. Long lines, lots of buzz, and for good reason: The Clock is fascinating. It’s fun to recognize the films included, delightful to have the feedback loop of wondering what time it is while you’re in the theater (then realizing you already know), and full of meaty theory around the concept of filmic representation.
Now, three years later, Marclay’s work is back in San Francisco. But instead of a blockbuster hit at SFMOMA, Marclay’s latest work, Six New Animations, is on view at Fraenkel Gallery -- the much smaller venue that represents Marclay.
The animations on view each take a single mundane object as its visual topic. Don’t visit Fraenkel expecting the magnitude of The Clock. These are items Marclay saw and photographed during his daily walks in London: bottle caps, cigarettes, Q-tips, plastic lids and straws. All are photographed lying on sidewalks, among grass, in puddles, or against dirt, in formulaic compositions.
Playing with pace, scale, and positioning, Marclay edited the photographs to form visual explorations of the items one by one. These microcosmic meditations at times seem humble and occasionally dull. Even with Marclay's clever editing, it’s hard to get jazzed about Q-tips (in the sweetly titled Cotton Buds) on sidewalks.