Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Christian Marclay + CCMC

Michael Snow, Christian Marclay, Paul Dutton, John Oswald
Christian Marclay + CCMC
Toronto/London, Canada: Art Metropole/Non Musica Rex,  2002
2 CD set
Edition of 1000, 25 of which were signed

Christian Marclay's first visit to Toronto (that I'm aware of) was for the Ben Portis curated exhibition at Oakville Galleries. The show was Marclay's first solo show in Canada, and the first to focus on his work with cinema, rather than music. It included a work that still remains a favourite today - Up & Out, which combines the visuals from the Antonioni film Blow Up, with the audio from the Brian DePalma quasi-remake, Blow Out.

I was at Art Metropole at the time and we approached Marclay about doing a performance while he was was town, which he shrugged off. He said he wasn't really interested in performing live anymore. "What about a performance with Michael Snow?", we asked, and he agreed instantly. 

Marclay, Snow, Paul Dutton and John Oswald performed to an over-capacity crowd at the Rivoli, and the performance was recorded with the possible aim of a future release. A year later, Portis approached me about co-publishing a double-CD with this performance, and another that he had organized short afterwards, in New York City. 

Ben was the founder of the No Music Festival, in London, Ontario, which took a similar approach of leveraging a local legendary noise band (in his case, the Nihilist Spasm Band) to coax New York performers (Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht, Jim O'Rourke, for example) to participate. He had just worked with Rachel Harrison, who he asked to photograph the show for the disc's tray card. 

Ben died last week after his car stalled on the highway. Another car hit him from behind and the car burst into flames. He was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

A memorial is being planned for September. A few brief obituaries can be read at the Canadian Art website, here.

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