David claerbout

David Claerbout (born 1969, Kortrijk, Belgium) is a Belgian artist working in the media of photography, video, sound, drawing and digital arts, though perhaps he is best known for his large scale video installations. His work exists at the meeting point between photography and film, and is at the forefront of this contemporary dialogue.

Claerbout studied at Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp from 1992-1995. He trained as a painter, but became more and more interested in time through investigations in the nature of photography, the still and the moving image (Bergson's duree echoed in Gilles Deleuze Cinema 1 and Cinema 2).

David Claerbout is represented by Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, [1] Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris,[2] Hauser & Wirth, London, [3] and Johnen Galerie, Cologne.[4]


In early works such as Kindergarten Antonio Sant’Elia 1932 made in 1998 and the last in a series, he presents an old, black and white photograph as a large, mute projection. A moment frozen in time…Children playing in a courtyard… The trees gently swaying in the ‘non existent’ wind create an acute sense of the uncanny and challenging the viewer’s perception. In another, well known piece, Vietnam, 1967, near Duc Pho (Reconstruction after Hiromishi Mine) (2001) time is suspended as an airplane caught by the camera moments before its crash, floats, the sunlight gently moving over the green and hilly landscape. In the book Visible Time, David Green writes: “What one actually experiences or indeed what one sees in this work, is not the conflation of photography and film but, a conjuncture of the two mediums in which neither ever loses its specificity. We are thus faced with a phenomenon in which two different mediums co-exist and seem to simultaneously occupy the same object. The projection screen here provides a point of intersection for both the photographic and filmic image.”[5]

With works such as Villa Corthout (2001) and Piano Player (2002), Claerbout’s work moves towards forms of narratives to describe ‘moments in time’ within the moving image, taking a more cinematic dimension. In the Bordeaux Piece (2004) actors repeat a given dialogue and a set of given movements, deconstructing cinematic time. The piece is in fact a 14 hours film made out of 70 shorter films shot at 10 minutes intervals throughout the day. The narrative slowly collapses, giving way to the movement of the sun over the landscape, architecture and people, thus creating a different temporality. In Sections of a Happy Moment (2007), Claerbout seems to ‘dissect’ a moment in the life of a Chinese family in the courtyard of a nondescript estate. A group of people are gathered around a ball suspended mid-air, all the faces turned towards it, smiling happily. Over the course of 25 minutes, this moment in time is analyzed from a multitude of different angles and perspectives, allowing the viewer an omnipresence that is paradoxical. The fragmentation of time in this piece, through freeze – frames of the same moment, creates 'visible duration'.[6] David Claerbout took part in the DAAD Berlin Artist Program in 2002-2003, has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including the George Pompidou Centre in Paris, where he held a comprehensive solo exhibition (2007–2008) and Hauser & Wirth London, Piccadilly (2009).

List of Selected Works

  • Boom (1996)

Single Channel Video Installation, Colour, Silent, 18’44”

  • Ruurlo, Bocurloscheweg 1910 (1997)

Single Channel Video Installation, Black and White, Silent, 10’

  • Kindergarten Antonio Sant’Elia, 1932 (1998)

Single Channel Video Installation, Black and White, Silent, 10’

  • Untitled (Carl and Julia) (2000)

Interactive Video Installation, Black and White, Silent

  • Venice Light Boxes (2000)

4 Light boxes, Cibachrome, Black and White

  • Vietnam, 1967, near Duc Pho (Reconstruction after Hiroshimi Mine) (2001)

Video Installation, Colour, Silent, 3’30”

  • Villa Corthout (2001)

5 - Channel Video Installation, Black and White, Mono Sound, 25’

  • The Stack (2002)

Video Installation, Colour, Silent, 36’

  • Piano Player (2002)

Single Channel Video Installation, Colour, Dolby Surround Sound, 7’

  • Rocking Chair (2003)

Double Screen Interactive Video Installation, Black and White, Silent

  • Bordeaux Piece (2004)

Single Channel Video Installation, Colour, Dual Mono Sound, 13:43’

  • Shadow Piece (2005)

Single Channel Video Installation, Black and White, Stereo Sound, 30’19”

  • Sections of a Happy Moment (2007)

Single Channel Video Installation, Black and White, Stereo Sound (Random Muzac), 25’57”

  • Selected Solo Exhibitions
  • 2013 Kunsthalle, Mainz, Germany
  • 2012 MART Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto

Parasol Unit, ‘the time that remains’, London, England Secession, ‘Diese Sonne strahlt immer’, Vienna, Austria

  • 2011 Wiels, 'Le temps qui reste', Brussels (Vorst)
  • 2009 De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, 'The Shape of Time', Tilburg
  • 2008 MIT LIST Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA

Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, 'After the Quiet', St. Gallen/Switzerland

Belkin Galleries at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

  • 2007 Centre Georges Pompidou, 'David Claerbout', Paris
  • 2005 Akademie der Künste, 'Background Time – Gezeiten', Berlin
  • 2004 Kunstbau im Lehnbachhaus, Munich
  • 2002 Kunstverein Hannover, Hanover


Selected Monographs/ Exhibition Catalogues

  • 2008

Van Assche, Christine (ed.), 'The Shape of Time', Zürich: JRP Ringier/Centre Pompidou/MIT List Center of Visual Arts/De Pont Foundation/Kunstmuseum St. Gallen/Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, 2008 (exh.cat.)

National Museum of Contemporary Art (ed.), 'David Claerbout', Athens, 2008 (exh.cat.)

  • 2004

Gaensheimer, Susanne, Meschede, Friedrich et al. (ed.), 'David Claerbout', Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2004 (exh.cat.)

Green, David, Lowry, Joanna, 'Visible Time: The work of David Claerbout', Herbert Read Gallery, Brighton: Photoworks, 2004 (exh.cat.)

  • 2003

CGAC Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (ed.), 'David Claerbout' [texts by Stephan Berg, Rachel Kushner], Santiago de Compostela, 2003 (exh.cat.)

  • 2002

Kunstverein Hannover (ed.), 'David Claerbout', Brussels: A Prior, 2002 (exh.cat.)


External links

  • Frieze Show Review
  • Frieze Review

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