534 W 21st Street
NEW YORK – The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present Surround Sounds (2014-15), a new video work by Christian Marclay premiering in North America this fall. The large-scale, synchronized video installation consists of animated onomatopoeias projected onto four walls of a darkened room. To make the work, Marclay drew from a collection of comic books, cutting out sound effects and animating them in a choreography that suggests the acoustic properties of each word. “Whizz” and “zoom” speed across the walls; “beep” blinks persistently, while “thump” falls rhythmically onto the floor. Though silent, the work plays like a musical composition, merging the aural with the visual and providing an immersive perceptual experience.
A symphonic maelstrom of illustrated words, the silent Surround Sound speaks only through our recollection of noise. The viewer hears with their eyes, building an imagined auditory narrative that is both collective and personal. In keeping with Marclay’s persistent interest in sampling, the appropriated graphics rely on a shared aesthetic: familiar bright colors and bold, expressive font suggest the action of a superhero’s storyline. Yet, conversely, the silent intimate dark room insists on an individual and private internal narrative. As the artist noted in a 1997 interview: “Absence is a void to be filled with one’s own stories. I find silence is much more powerful because … in silence we can think about sound. Silence is the negative space that defines sound.”
The exhibition will also present a series of related works on paper exploring the recurrence of onomatopoeias as visual and acoustic material in Marclay’s work. In comparison to the massive video installation, the paper works explore this crossing of visual and auditory perceptions across diverse forms of media.
Christian Marclay works in a wide range of media, including sculpture, video, photography, collage, music, and performance. For more than thirty years, he has been exploring the connections between the visual and the audible, creating works in which these two distinct sensorial experiences enrich and challenge each other. Marclay’s work has been shown in museums and galleries internationally. He has had important solo exhibitions at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (1990); Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva (1995); Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich (1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2002); Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles (2003); and Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva (2008).
In 2010, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, hosted Christian Marclay: Festival. For over twelve and a half weeks, this groundbreaking exhibition featured daily performances by world-renowned musicians and vocalists, including many of the artist’s regular collaborators, exploring Marclay’s vast oeuvre with a particular focus on his “graphic scores.”
In 2011, Marclay received the Golden Lion award for best artist at the 54th Venice Biennale for his twenty-four hour virtuosic video piece The Clock. First premiering in London in 2010, The Clock has since been exhibited worldwide in more than twenty venues, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2013); and Guggenheim Bilbao (2014).
Concurrently with this exhibition, the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Switzerland will be presenting Surround Sounds as part of “Christian Marclay: Action,” a one-person exhibition focusing on sound and language in Marclay’s work. Marclay will also be the subject of two solo exhibitions in Stuttgart, Germany, this fall, with Shake Rattle and Roll (Fluxmix) forming the centerpiece of a Fluxus-inspired show at the Staatsgalerie and Video Quartet on view nearby at the Kunstmuseum.