How to see the most of The Clock
Stories & Ideas

Wed 06 Mar 2019

How to see the most of The Clock

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Your museum of screen culture

You don't need to stay 24 hours straight but you can still see a lot

As we farewell Christian Marclay's The Clock with a screening lasting a marathon 105 consecutive hours, we spoke to people who've viewed the entire 24-hour work. 

Though Marclay himself recently told the Guardian that seeing the entire work is unnecessary and to "Just enjoy it for the moment", he's also told reporters at the Tate Modern that "It’s a work that can be very deep if you want to dig into it, spend more time with it". So we're sitting somewhere in between. Maybe don't attempt the whole 24 hours in one go, like Zak Hepburn did, but maybe consider breaking it up like the other clock-watchers on this list. 

No matter how you do it, here are their expert tips.  

Dr Zak Hepburn

I survived by strategic circulation boosting bagel and coffee missions and an 11pm espresso martini at the ACMI Cafe & Bar. The touch stones of the 24 experience for me were midday, midnight and dawn. Upon hearing the familiar tones of Sonny and Cher at 6am as they shepherd Bill Murray into a never ending Groundhog Day gave me the final boost I needed to make it through the full cycle.

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Eloise Ross

Marathoning with The Clock is tough going, but there are definitely bits you shouldn't miss. Some of my favourite hours take place between midnight and 3am – it's the terrain of experienced criminals making silent getaways, insomniacs calming themselves with endless cigarettes, sex scenes interrupted by the telephone ringing. After these hours, the editing slows down and The Clock takes on an oneiric lull, so maybe have a nap on the couch. Wake yourself up at 5.30am, grab a coffee from Woolworths (sorry, it might be the only thing open!), then sit back up and join in as people start their day on screen. It's quite a feeling.

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Jenny Sinclair

Sixteen hours into The Clock (over eight different sessions), this is what has worked for me.

Basically treat it like embarking on a longish car drive or shortish plane trip: dress comfy (you’ll be needing to wriggle your legs, curl up and generally move about in your seat) and warm (the A/C at ACMI is a powerful thing and you’ll be sitting still for a few hours). Bring a notebook and pen to scribble down actors’ names so you can try to find the movies afterwards – there’ll be heaps you will want to chase up.

Be nice to the staff: sure they are getting paid, but all the same, they’re standing there at 2.30 a.m. so you can watch a movie.

You’re not supposed to eat or drink and I’d advise against drinking anyway (see next point) but no one has yet caught me sneaking a couple of non-noisy, non-odorous barley sugars into my mouth a couple of times an hour. You’re also not supposed to use your phone – don’t, it’s really annoying and you’ll miss something on the screen. Be present.

I loved most: 10.04 pm (Back to The Future); Clint Eastwood at the duel in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly around 5 pm; the virtual day starting to pick up pace after 8am, as plots were laid and all the machinery of late capitalism began creaking into action.

And always, always remember to go the bathroom before you embark…

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Richard Leathem 

There’s no sense in slogging through The Clock with heavy eyes and a growling stomach. It’s best to take it in sensible 4–6 hour blocks. That way you won’t miss a minute with pesky food and toilet breaks (you can’t take food in with you). Also your spine with thank you for not keeping it coiled up on an Ikea couch for an entire day.

Even a few hours at a time is an immersive experience and will have you leaving the room feeling deliriously disorientated. You see a clock and wonder what film it’s from and then you realise you’re in real life.

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Try these tips out when Christian Marclay's The Clock screens in its entire 24 hours for five consecutive days from 10am Thursday 7 March – 5pm Monday 11 March.