Aircraft (F.A.L.)

David Claerbout

Aircraft (F.A.L.), 2015 ‑ 2021

In what direction does time move? Is it from left to right, like we would graph events as they unfold in history? Does time come from the past -the left-, passing through the present- the middle – into a far, far away future – the right-? About spatializations of time a lot has been written, and it is generally considered to be a fallacy in the thinking about time. Clock time may provide a sturdy frame planning or manipulating time, but anyone who sees the ageing process in action -often autobiographically – will wonder if there is more to time than ticking.

Film, the moving image, is a descendant of clock time, synchronized. Film can be produced and reproduced because of a mastery of time, divided and counted as units. Film therefore would seem an unfit tool with which to be digging for alternatives to our understanding of time.
‘Aircraft (F.A.L.)’ is based on the principle of safeguarding a museal object, that yet has to be completed. The objects in the film all have an outspoken character as matter: concrete floor, timber, polished aluminum, labels, metal boxes, and glass, all in the becoming of a new airplane that somehow seems to be delayed more than seventy years in time. We see an outdated object, that can never be seen afresh, whilst the time we spend with the guards protecting the past can never be anything else than here and now, testified by their footsteps that reverberate in the enormous mostly empty hall.

The pastness of the scene and the freshness of the materials are laid on top of one another, never to let go, never to be read separately again, as either a thing from the past or a thing in the becoming. This is what ‘virtualization’ does, dragging with it a trace of a past, while moving into the future, with no plans of ever arriving. ‘In between’ seems to be what is best associated with virtual. That position reminds of Bruno Latour’s image of the airliner captain announcing to the passengers that the place of origin no longer exists while the scheduled arrival airport has vanished. Almost in the air, while mounted on a scaffolding. One feature that makes an aircraft beautiful to behold is that it incorporates forward movement while sitting idle in a hangar. From whichever angle you observe the craft it seems to be already in motion towards somewhere, forward, in a future.

The work of David Claerbout has been subject of numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including: Garage LAB; Mocow, Kunsthaus Bregenz; Schaulager, Basel; MNAC, Barcelona; Städel Museum, Frankfurt; KINDL, Berlin, Marabouparken Konsthall, Sundbybert, Sweden; Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz, Germany; Secession, Vienna; Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel; Parasol unit, London; SFMOMA, San Francisco; WIELS, Brussels; The De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands and Pompidou Center, Paris; The Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland; and The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, among other. His work is represented in major public collections worldwide including RC Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MUHKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst; Antwerpen, S.M.A.K; Gent, Centre Georges Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne; Paris, De Pont museum voor hedendaagse kunst; Tilburg, Boijmans van Beuningen; Rotterdam, Mudam; Luxembourg, Hirshhorn Museum; Washington DC, Guggenheim Museum; New York, Collection François Pinault, Pinakothek der Moderne; München, Bergen Art Museum; Bergen and The Israel Museum; Jerusalem among other.