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David Claerbout

The American Room


The works of Belgian artist David Claerbout are marked by an interrogation of time as an artistic medium. He has developed a kind of 'photography in movement', a 'still movement', into which he introduces narrative elements. He draws on the conventions of film, photography, and digital media, challenging boundaries by combining traditional technologies in the production of his works.
 
 Navigating between the still and the moving image, between photographic and digital techniques, Claerbout produces works that are not easy to 'consume': looking at his work means spending enough time waiting for things to happen – an experience of duration which provides the viewer both the conditions and the desire to re-think what narration and story-telling can be in face of the image and its current technologies.
 
 His artistic work deals with the transient nature of time and place on a specific moment and the incapability of any form of visual reproduction to completely capture 'reality' as it comes or exists. or to speak with the artist's own words: 'I don't know if recording reality and making your own reality is really any different. We thought of photography and cinema as the ambassadors of reality and what Andre Bazin says it's the "haute couture" of reality. But photography and film have long lost their status of being the ambassadors of reality, being credible witnesses of reality. We need to acknowledge that what you see is a construct. What I see as the element that is tapping into the certainty of being into a reality is duration, the time that you as a spectator spend in front of the work.  Duration is a real analog element. I try to give to duration a quality of something very large, something which is much larger than yourself, something which keeps on going after you've gone. So for me duration is no longer linked to speed. The triangle of duration is that of pastness, present, and future. And I kind of try to capture those three elements on the same surface. I try to be aware in the video pieces of the pastness of the picture, the presentness of the picture, and what it will mean in time.'


The American Room
Dancin Couples (after: Couples at square dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, 1939 or 1940)
White House
Shadow Piece
Shadow Piece
The Bordeaux piece
American Car
Courtesy David Claerbout and Galerie Micheline Szwajcer


Flanders Arts Institute

Expertise centre for performing arts, music and visual arts.