David Claerbout’s new multimedia installation will premiere at the Milwaukee Museum of Art
This winter, the Milwaukee Art Museum will mount the American museum premiere of the multimedia installation The Close (2022) by Belgian video and digital artist David Claerbout. With this presentation, the Museum reinforces its commitment to exploring the work of contemporary artists whose work pushes the boundaries of traditional disciplines and inspires new ways of thinking about our past, present and future. Claerbout’s conceptual practice investigates the relationship between images and the passage of time, and with The Close the artist merges innovative new technologies with historic photographic techniques, demonstrating how the practice of photography has evolved in the digital age. of today. The Close will be on view in the Museum’s Baker/Rowland Galleries from November 18, 2022 to January 8, 2023.
Conceived as a journey from the past to the future of the camera, The Close brings together a reconstruction of amateur images taken around 1920 with a 3D digital rendering of these images. Viewers watch a silent scene of barefoot children in a brick-walled alley – a “farm” – transitions from grainy footage of a child to a very detailed portrait. The images freeze on the figure and 24 distinct renditions of Arvo Pärt’s “Da pacem Domine” (2004) are broadcast simultaneously from self-contained loudspeakers throughout the installation, creating an immersive experience. These competing scores offer viewers a wide range of different encounters with the same image.
Claerbout completes the installation with six large-scale “process drawings” that resemble film stills. These hand-printed digital drawings are made through a new iterative mixed-media method that begins with washed India ink renderings and ends with pencil and gouache finishes. Unlike many artists who use drawing as a plan or as a storyboard for their films, Claerbout uses the medium to create epilogues for his video projects, reconnecting the virtual to the tactile.
“The Close by David Claerbout is a tribute to the history of the camera, an emotional account of the progression of photography and moving images,” said Margaret Andera, Acting Chief Curator and Curator of the contemporary art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “The work traces the proliferation of the camera in modern everyday life, deftly illustrating the trajectory of film from the novelty of its beginnings to its contemporary digital possibilities. Claerbout masterfully presents this evolution with nostalgia and nuance.”
Through its acquisitions, commissions, exhibitions and interventions by living artists, the Milwaukee Art Museum cultivates new interpretations of the historical canon of art. The Close pursues the Museum’s commitment to showcasing projects that create a dialogue between historical pieces and contemporary practices. This is epitomized by the Museum’s ongoing series of exhibitions, Currents, which began four decades ago and has since featured pioneers such as Félix González-Torres and Tara Donovan, among others.
“A central part of the museum’s mission is to identify and exhibit artists working today who are innovators in their fields,” said Marcelle Polednik, director of Donna and Donald Baumgartner of the Milwaukee Art Museum. “Our presentation of The Close continues the Museum’s legacy of mounting groundbreaking projects by emerging and established artists, and we look forward to welcoming the public to experience this deeply moving work later this year.”
The Milwaukee Art Museum extends its sincere thanks to the visionaries of 2022: Donna and Donald Baumgartner, Murph Burke, Joel and Caran Quadracci, Sue and Bud Selig, and Jeff and Gail Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation.
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