‘The Clock’ filmmaker criticizes MFA’s plan for opening

By DougMost
Globe Staff / August 19, 2011

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After learning that the Museum of Fine Arts will first show his much-buzzed about 24-hour film, “The Clock,” next month at a $200-per-person party celebrating its new contemporary art wing, the film’s creator released a terse statement yesterday:

“It has always been my express wish,” Christian Marclay wrote to the Globe, “that there should be no additional charge to view my work ‘The Clock’ over and above any general admission price to an institution or any other venue, nor should it be used in connection with the promotion, advertisement, or sponsorship of any person or business. This is contractually agreed by all institutions who own and exhibit ‘The Clock.’ It is my intention that my work be made equally accessible to all.”

Marclay’s statement was issued two days after the Globe reported the MFA’s plans for “The Clock” at its opening party for the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art Sept. 17 and 18. The $200 fee will cover admittance to the festivities at 7 p.m., but as the evening goes on, late arrivals will be able to pay $100 and later $50 to see portions of the film. The last 12 hours will be free, as part of the no-charge admission to the museum, starting at 7 a.m. Sept. 18.

The MFA released its own statement yesterday, in which director Malcolm Rogers said the museum respects Marclay’s stipulations. (His letter to the editor can be seen on today’s Letters  page.) “We regret that our plans for the opening party gave the impression that we are charging specifically for The Clock.” The MFA says the $200 fee it is charging is for entrance to its party and to help pay for keeping the museum open 24 hours straight.

Another 24-hour showing of “The Clock,” which generated long lines of attendees at exhibits in New York and London, will be offered free of charge on the Sunday and Monday of Columbus Day weekend. MFA spokeswoman Dawn Griffin said that after the opening weekend, anybody who comes to the MFA on Wednesday evenings can see portions of “The Clock” free of charge. (Wednesday evenings are “pay as you wish.”)

But anybody hoping to be there on opening night to see the entire 24 hours of “The Clock” will have to pay $200. That admission price will also cover access to live entertainment and food and drink, as well as the opportunity to browse other galleries.

“The MFA is not charging to see ‘The Clock’; we are charging for the party,” Griffin said.

But because the party will host the entire initial screening of “The Clock,” some in the Boston arts community were irked this week.

Some said the MFA is excluding people from the Boston unveiling of “The Clock” by starting it at an expensive party.

Marclay’s film is a compilation of hundreds of movie and television clips with references synched to real time, and it stretches over 24 hours, synched in real time. Marclay, who graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and splits his time between London and New York, could not be reached after releasing his statement.

“The artist and his gallery, White Cube, have been and continue to be in frequent communication with the MFA about his work,” Griffin said.

Writing in his letter, Rogers said, “The opening of a contemporary wing within Boston’s great art museum is a milestone for the MFA and our many supporters and visitors.”

Amid all the hubbub, one thing is clear, said Griffin. “The Clock” is generating excitement.

“I just got an e-mail from a bride,” she said. The bride is planning to show up opening weekend in her wedding dress, with her wedding party, sometime late at night.

Doug Most can be reached at