Critics’ Picks

Shadow Piece, 2005, still from a black-and-white digital video with sound, 30 minutes.

Shadow Piece, 2005, still from a black-and-white digital video with sound, 30 minutes.

Paris

David Claerbout

Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou
October 3, 2007–January 7, 2008

In this small survey, Belgian artist David Claerbout presents films that hover between the fixedness of still photography and the momentum of time-based media. His Shadow Piece, 2005, for example, is a found photograph of a modern glass-and-steel office foyer digitally merged with footage of people, clad in suits or heels, walking briskly. Yet even as the action plays out, time seems suspended, since the quality of the sunlight does not change and the shadows cast across the polished marble floor do not move. In contrast, the bands of shade beneath the concrete highway viaducts in the video The Stack, 2002, gradually shift to reveal a homeless man in the extreme foreground sleeping on a pile of dirt. Claerbout introduces narrative in Bordeaux Piece, 2004, in which three actors recite a simple, stilted script at various points from dawn to dusk. The artist builds antagonism between the performers and their environment in ways that interact with the advance and retreat of light and thus with the very visibility of the drama he is creating. The artist’s recent Sections of a Happy Moment, 2007, is a series of simultaneously snapped photographs of a Chinese family playing in the sunlit square of a housing complex, set to a faint, delicate melody. Again, Claerbout magically reveals that which would otherwise remain unseen, unheard, and unnoticed.