This interview discusses the work of Claerbout in the context of an exhibition at Sean Kelly gallery in New York City.
Throughout his career, the Belgian artist David Claerbout has investigated the conceptual impact of the passage of time through his use of video and digital photography. As scholar David Green has explained, “Claerbout’s work subtly proposes a relationship of similitude between film and the objective world that lies outside and beyond the narrative space of cinema. In doing so he poses a set of questions about how we experience film and about the nature of the medium itself.”
Specifically, Claerbout manipulates both moving and still imagery to suggest an otherworldly level of existence, something that might refer to a specific place or event, but the timeline of which is not clear, oscillating between both past and present. The element of sound is critical in many of the works, often used as either a narrative device or a “guide” for the viewer to navigate the architectural space in the film. Claerbout’s oeuvre is characterized by a meticulous attention to production details, painstakingly created often over a period of years. The resultant works are immersive environments in which the viewer is invited to engage both philosophically and aesthetically.
Claerbout studied at the Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp from 1992 to 1995 and participated in the DAAD: Berlin Artists-in-Residence program from 2002 to 2003. Claerbout’s work is included in major public collections worldwide, including: Centre Georges Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, and many others.
David Claerbout lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium and Berlin, Germany.