Photo: Shadow Piece, 2005, Video installation 

David Claerbout

Athens Conservatoire

”The first sensation.”; This is the profound poetic choice of David Claerbout and the beginning for our own quest. “At the first glance” is how Plotinus names in his Enneads (1,2) the first contact with the spectacle or sound that lures, mobilizes and imposes on our senses at once. This principle is corroborated by the contemporary artist, from one exhibition to another, before the immediacy of the total experience is succeeded by our concentration on each work separately. In its different, condensed temporalities, in its distinctive atmosphere, in its inner sounds. For each “exhibition – projection” by Claerbout, in spite of the open character of its architecture, is experienced in quiet and silence. This is the matrix of sound and image in his video installations, which cross equally with painting, photography and cinema.

His works narrate the passing time, without narrativity. There are no real stories, but potential narratives. In front of the screened “pictures” of different dimensions in the gallery, we sink into the slow flux of duration. We seek the sound colour of time, its shape. Through the changes of the natural light, the slowness of shots on the threshold of motion and stillness. The movement of music. Through a metonymic rhetoric and digital processing, which condense the past and the present of the image. Time, here, is imbued with melancholy, waiting, joy, memory…

In David Claerbout’s meditative and poetic essays, artistic hybridization is not located only in the combinations of mixed forms, in merging and reversing, in the various appropriations and incorporations. It is moreover legitimized in the artist’s different practices and roles, in which the archive researcher meets and coexists with the photographer and the cinematographer, the painter with the critic and the curator of his exhibitions. The exhibition he conceived for Athens is born in a new space for the Museum. The artist-curator’s hybrid approach teaches us.


1. David Campany (ed.), The Cinematic. Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel and The MIT Press, London, Cambridge, 2007, p. 11.
2. See chapter “The Pose” in Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, Vintage, London, 2000, p. 78-80.

Curated by David Claerbout