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Christian Marclay

The Creation (Body Mix), 1991
3 record covers, thread
70.2 x 43.8 cm
A cross between a found object and a photographic composition, The Creation presents a visual collage that functions where the fine arts intersect the field of music. In this work Christian Marclay, doling out humour and derision, mashes up LP covers that evoke different musical genres. Placing the covers one atop the other, he has sewn them together to form a new visual composition. Thus, the dancing body that is featured on an album by Jimmie Spheeris – a singer-songwriter of jazz-inflected folk music and an icon of the 1970s – is prolonged in the long legs pictured on the cover of an album by The Creation, an English group that played psychedelic and garage rock as well as R&B. These legs in turn end in a pair of high heels adorning the cover of an album by the legendary American rock group ZZ Top.

Borrowing practices that are peculiar to the field of music – cover version, sampling, remix – and transferring them to the world of images, the artist passes musical history in review, interweaving it with the history of forms : the human figure is reworked in the manner of both an “exquisite corpse ”, a process that Surrealism brought to life, and the collage, a practice favoured by the Dadaists, to shape a visual narrative that has much in common with a story conveyed through sound. The image is shorn of its original context to become a piece of another narrative which, in the frustration occasioned by its own silence, summons viewers’ personal memory, thus engaging the imagination. By drawing on musical iconography, Marclay seizes on icons and symbols of pop-rock culture that awaken auditory memories in each of us. The artist’s hybrid works, functioning at the point where objects, images and audio come together, display the omnipresence of the dimension of sound in the world, that invisible, abstract phenomenon which becomes a visual material in his hands.
Christian Marclay, The Creation (Body Mix), La Création (de la série Body Mix), 1991