In early works such as ‘Kindergarten Antonio Sant’Elia 1932’ made in 1998 and the last in a series, he presents an old, black and white photograph as a large, mute projection. A moment frozen in time…Children playing in a courtyard… The trees gently swaying in the ‘non existent’ wind create an acute sense of the uncanny and challenging the viewer’s perception. In another, well known piece, ‘Vietnam, 1967, near Duc Pho (Reconstruction after Hiroshimi Mine) (2001) time is suspended as an airplane caught by the camera moments before it’s crash, floats, the sunlight gently moving over the green and hilly landscape. In the book ‘Visible Time’, David Green writes: “What one actually experiences or indeed what one sees in this work, is not the conflation of photography and film but, a conjuncture of the two mediums in which neither ever loses its specificity. We are thus faced with a phenomenon in which two different mediums co-exist and seem to simultaneously occupy the same object. The projection screen here provides a point of intersection for both the photographic and filmic image.”
With works such as ‘Villa Corthout’ (2001) and ‘Piano Player’ (2002), Claerbout’s work moves towards forms of narratives to describe ‘moments in time’ within the moving image, taking a more cinematic dimension. In the ‘Bordeaux Piece’ (2004) actors repeat a given dialogue and a set of given movements, deconstructing cinematic time. The piece is in fact a 14 hours film made out of 70 shorter films shot at 10 minutes intervals throughout the day. The narrative slowly collapses, giving way to the movement of the sun over the landscape, architecture and people, thus creating a different temporality. In ‘Sections of a Happy Moment’ (2007), Claerbout seems to ‘dissect’ a moment in the life of a Chinese family in the courtyard of a nondescript estate. A group of people are gathered around a ball suspended mid-air, all the faces turned towards it, smiling happily. Over the course of 25 minutes, this moment in time is analyzed from a multitude of different angles and perspectives, allowing the viewer an omnipresence that is paradoxical. The fragmentation of time in this piece, through freeze – frames of the same moment, creates 'visible duration'.
(quoted from wikipedia)