David Claerbout: the time that remains @ Parasol Unit

Parasol Unit presents Belgian artist David Claerbout in his first solo show in a public London gallery. Titled “the time that remains”, the exhibition features 8 works created since 2000 and spread over two floors.

Claerbout’s work is an in depth exploration of the dialogue between photography and film, which are his two main media. The first work as we enter the exhibition area is “Orchestra”, 2011; a large dark room with a still image of a performing conductor and his audience, all suspiciously starring at the viewer. The “Bordeaux Piece”, 2004 is an almost 14 hour long single channel colour projection which includes the same scene played by three actors at 10 minute intervals between 5.30a.m. and 10p.m. “Breathing Bird”, 2012 is a two-channel colour video showing two birds standing on either side of a window, visibly able but physically unable to communicate. The single channel black and white projection “The Algiers’ Sections of a Happy Moment”, 2008, is capturing the joyful moment of a group of youngsters stopping their soccer game when one of them starts feeding the seagulls. A young girl with her father sit serenely at the veranda of their villa in the single channel black and white projection “Untitled (Carl and Julie)”, 2000; the girl at times turns to look at the viewer acknowledging their presence. “The Quiet Shore” 2011, is a single channel black and white projection showing images taken at the beach of Brittany, France at low tide. Entering another dark room we spy on an almost invisible maid during her night housework routine at a luxurious villa in “Sunrise”, 2009.

Claerbout’s work is an on-going study of the properties and qualities of film and photography. With his masterful eye for detail he catches the viewer’s attention at once and engages them to a journey of observation and surveillance. By filtering his chosen backdrops with an idiosyncrasy of minimalism, Claerbout leads our attention to specific elements of his work generating, simultaneously, connotations on human relations, separation and social behaviourism.

A great deal of Claerbout’s work seems to revolve around the representation of time and light. Nearly every single of his exhibited pieces pronounces the vitality of these two key components. Flirting with the suspension or even the collapse of the subjective time results to the production of intriguing surreal situations. The successive variation of day light in accordance with time progression reflect an interspersed autonomy of the subject’s emotional state with a clear impact on the viewer’s perception. The opacity and oneirical effect of Claerbout’s visual language appears as an inter-personal assessment in line with the given narrative.

The silence in most of the featured works instigates not only the value of body language and gesture but also the significance of decoding the ubiquitous notion of co-existence. Processing the gaze that this gradually develops in Claerbout’s work offers an outstanding opportunity to observe the desire of personal completion through the inter-action and inter-relation between the subject and the object. K.P.