David Claerbout (born 1969 in Kortrijk, Belgium; lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium and Berlin, Germany).
Single-channel video projection, color, dual mono over headphones and speakers; 13 hrs 43 min.
13-hour video of Rem Koolhaas’s Maison à Bordeaux (1996), itself a comment on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s courtyard houses and glass box modernism. It shows a scene being repeated every 10 minutes from dawn until dusk. The architecture allows continuous takes without cuts.
“With Bordeaux Piece I have for the first time written dialogues, with the help of the actor Josse de Pauw, who plays the role of the father. Each shot lasts between two and three minutes, and there are seven shots forming the story, a bit like in a fiction short. The plot did not matter to me; I needed a succession of photographs, quickly seen situations, and I chose the story of Le Mépris by Jean-Luc Godard. It could have been a different story. I wanted a fairly tense dramatic action evoked by very flat dialogue. I filmed it so that it doesn’t really work. This is how I proceeded: we filmed each shot from 5:30 AM, just as there is light enough to see, until 10 PM, just after dusk, when you can no longer see anything. The filming took place between mid-July and mid-August. We took exactly the same shot every ten minutes as the light changed over a single day, 70 shots a day in all. Then I edited all the scenes of the story filmed at 5:30; then those filmed ten minutes later, and so on. In the final edit the script is enacted 70 times, identically each time, and each time in a constant light: a light that corresponds to the same time of day, but that is taken from different days. Each script lasts 13 hours and 40 minutes. Thus with Bordeaux Piece I didn’t make any attempt to extend or reinterpret the field of cinematographic fiction. I pretended to make a short, a work fiction, and an edit against a background structured by light. This ‘background’ gradually moves to the forefront, and cancels out the story, the opposite of what happens in the cinema. It is the light that organizes everything. You may be interested in the story the first time, perhaps the second, but it is already becoming a kind of rather disappointing canvas, a motif lending rhythm to the real issue in Bordeaux Piece, which is to give form to duration by means of natural light.”
—David Claerbout, “Bordeaux Piece,” website of David Claerbout.