Christian Marclay


Christian Marclay Biography


Christian Marclay is a London and New York based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Marlcay was born in California in 1955 and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother was American so he held a double nationality. He studied at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel from 1977–1980 in Geneva, Switzerland. From 1977–1980 he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He also studied as a visiting scholar at Cooper Union in New York in 1978. As a performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique “theater of found sound,” influenced by Marcel Duchamp. Christian Marclay offers a unique, fresh and innovative voice that has inspired an entire generation of musicians, artists and theorists.

Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker, his installations and video/film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Christian Marclay has been said to be the first non-rap DJ to make an art form out of the turntable, treating the instrument as a means to rip songs apart, not bridge them together. Marclay began his musical exploration that mixes sound and art with performance using turntables in 1979 as a student. Recycled Records (1980–1986), was one of his early pieces. The work took fragmented and reassembled records which became objects that could be played, distorting tone and sound. Body Mix (1991–92), is a series he produced that wove together album covers, creating Postmodern critiques of music and visual culture. One example is Deutsche Grammaphon conductors with the infamous legs of Tina Turner, bringing to light Surrealist ‘Exquisite Corpses.’ A key thread throughout Christian Marclay’s work is this transformation of musical objects into visual commentary on culture.