David Claerbout

On more than one occasion in the past years, the Van Abbe Museum has focused attention on artists who - using photography and film - evoke the stillness of an often poetically-tinted world: Craigie Horsfield, Jaki Irvine, Marijke van Warmerdam, Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij.

David Claerbout’s (Kortrijk, 1969) exhibition fits perfectly into this series.

Claerbout’s artistic efforts are frequently described as being somewhat formal. This formality is an important and striking characteristic of the artist’s work, but in the end it is not the most interesting aspect. Undeniably, his work is also about the link between photography and film, still and moving images, real and compressed time, animation and digital image manipulation, light and movement. However, these are the more technical and utilitarian aspects of his work. They do not provide us with vital information about the perspective the images themselves convey.

An immense poetic energy touches those who allow themselves to experience the work of Claerbout without immediately lapsing into formal analysis. The artist attempts to visualize both feelings of loss and the repossession of distant times. Normally, events of the past, though gone for good, are still within reach in the form of mental pictures. His work tries to make us aware of the way in which we perceive: how we remember incidents related to our lives by freezing time, as well as by depicting them as a continuum of fleeting moments. Most of his pieces are like visual poems. They evoke an atmosphere of melancholy; a melancholy that is nourished by feelings of nostalgia - loss caused by the inevitability of the passage of time. His work gives viewers a glimpse at something that is gone forever.

On the occasion of David Claerbout’s exhibition tour -which started on 15 October 2004 in Munich- a publication was released by the four institutions organising the exhibition tour: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau in Munich, the Academie der Künste in Berlin, the Van Abbemuseum and Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland.