Christian Marclay

Born 1955.
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Christian Marclay Biography

Christian Marclay explores the culture of making and collecting music through an innovative synthesis of visual and audio art, including performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video. Credited with inventing “turntablism,” Marclay pioneered the technique of using records and turntables as musical instruments, and has collaborated with musicians like John Zorn, William Hooker and Sonic Youth. As humorous as it is cutting edge, Marclay’s work is also notable for his playful take on postmodern critique and his use of audiovisual puns.

Born in San Rafael, California, in 1955, Marclay was raised in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied art at the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva, Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Cooper Union in New York. While never formally trained as a musician, Marclay has credited John Cage, Yoko Ono and Vito Acconci as influences. In 1979, unable to recruit a drummer for his Theater of Found Sound performances, Marclay began using the percussive sounds of a skipping LP to create audio rhythm tracks. For Recycled Records (1980–86), Marclay took his sound manipulations further, slicing apart vinyl records and reassembling the fragments to create new sequences of distorted tone and sound. Marclay’s visual explorations of musical culture are equally emblematic of his oeuvre; in his Body Mix (1991–92) series, a critique on the commodification of pop music, Marclay assembles mutant bodies from various disparate album covers.

In 2010, Marclay’s film The Clock, a 24-hour supercut of time-related scenes from film and television, debuted at London’s White Cube Gallery to dizzying critical acclaim. The piece won the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennial, earning Marclay inclusion in 2012’s TIME 100. Today, Marclay lives and works between New York and London. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Tate Gallery, London.

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