The global award in photography and sustainability

Christian Marclay

My work explores the physical and cultural intersection between sound and image, and reflects an ongoing interest in the sonic perception of still images. How an image is expressive of sound, and how sound can then be expressed visually.

I use fragments of popular culture as material with which to create new meaning and form, through a process of mixing and re-contextualisation that is rooted in a sampling aesthetic originating in sound works I developed throughout the 1980’s using vinyl records. This approach to found material subsequently evolved to include the use of video, photography and printmaking.

The work that has triggered my nomination for the Prix Pictet was exhibited at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco (January 21 – March 25, 2021) and was comprised of photographs, collages, and a video animation. The works selected for the Prix Pictet exhibition, however, are more specifically about fire.

The photographic prints originate from small-scale collages. Cut and torn fragments from comic books, movie stills, and images found on the internet are arranged into expressive composites of screaming faces. Sometimes the fragments are taped or glued directly onto the screen. Other faces are made from aggressively altering the paper by crumpling, tearing, and burning. These small ephemeral collages are then recorded by the camera.

Fire, 2020, is a video animation made from paper cutouts from comic book illustrations of fire. More than 1,500 photographs shown in rapid succession suggest a flip book, creating the illusion of a flickering fire. This animated collage transforms the representations of all manner of war, catastrophe, explosion, and arson into abstracted yellows, oranges, and reds.

These works reflect on the fear and anxiety associated with the raging pandemic, the erosion of democracy, systemic racism, and the damage to our environment.

Christian Marclay