Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
48 War Movies (2019) is a single-channel video that collapses conflicts from the Civil War to Iraq into a horrifying aggregate spectacle of war. Dramatizations are collaged into almost indistinguishable narratives and presented through concentric rectangles, like a flickering conveyor belt of popular cultural content. The forty-eight war films play simultaneously and continuously, and the accompanying soundtrack generates an indecipherable cacophony of wartime sounds.
In response to this kaleidoscope of continuous conflict are a series of screaming faces frozen in perpetual terror. Taken from Japanese Manga and Western style comic books, rendered in colored woodcuts, and printed on a monumental scale, the still and silent faces protest the ceaseless noise and motion of the accompanying video. Both 48 War Movies and the Scream prints react to the endless onward march of global warfare and its mediation in popular culture. By manipulating appropriated fragments from traditional media, Marclay presents an alternative coping mechanism to trauma: an eternal scream in place of an aching mask-like smile.
First presented in “May You Live in Interesting Times,” the International Art Exhibition at the 58th Venice Biennale, this will be the North American premiere of 48 War Movies.
At Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
until 19 October 2019