2 February – 10 March 2007
Since the early 1980s, Marclay has been developing a distinctive body of work that explores the relationships between sound and image. Renowned for his exuberant and witty collages, Marclay has made use of everything from record covers to film clips to construct pictures, objects and installations.
The video installation Crossfire creates a charged, physical space in which the viewer is surrounded by four large projections playing a rapid montage of guns and gunfire. The gun is perhaps the most iconic image in the media, a constant presence in everything from newscasts about faraway wars and local crimes to its persistent role as a narrative device in movies. While guns always foreshadow violence, they also offer a false promise of safety from an outside threat. Marclay plays with this twin sense of dread and fascination. Crossfire features characters handling a variety of guns, from small pistols to unruly rifles – a man pulls back his jacket to reveal a thick handgun in a holster, fingers caress a steely gun barrel as if stroking a fetish object, a thumb pushes bullets into the cylinder of a revolver. When the shooting begins, the viewer is engulfed by a cadenced, pulsating violence that diminishes and intensifies with mesmerising rhythm. Although the viewer is under a continuous assault, Marclay’s precise arrangement of sound and image allows the gunfire to become a kind of percussion instrument, and Crossfire coaxes a strange music from the Westerns, gangster flicks and war movies that the artist has used as raw material.
For the second part of the exhibition, Marclay created a group of prints made from onomatopoeic words that he has torn from comic books and collaged before scanning and reprinting them at a large scale. Onomatopoeic words, with their huge letters and strings of unbroken vowels, blaze across the page at decisive moments in every superhero’s escapade, yet their forceful presence remains silent until interpreted and read aloud. Marclay treats these chunky words like objects, creating collages that emphasise the materiality of the paper and the ink of the original comic book. Removed from their narrative context, the words fizz with random violence and barely contained energy.