David Claerbout

Birdcage, 2023

Birdcage is a furtherance of David Claerbout’s preoccupation with perception, cognition, time and temporality.

In Birdcage, an explosion shatters the tranquility of a picturesque garden, conveying a sense of emergency in what could be a serene setting. The silent blast is captured with a long, muted shot, putting the viewer in a conflicted position to visually appreciate this scene of destruction.

Not without a hint to René Magritte’s Empire des lumières (The Empire of Lights), Birdcage explores how our perception actively composes the world we inhabit. Continuing the interests of earlier works, in which Claerbout shifted the principal role from foreground to background, Birdcage shifts the attention from the center to the periphery, from a sun-drenched, (f)estive explosion of nature, to a state of tension.
In line with his ideas about anti-anthropocentrism, the glossy starling and singing thrush are given a central role, highlighting the change in aura they undergo in states of panic, from an index of lightness to an expressionist portrait of fear.

At the end the qualities of impact or violence and those of quietness or meditation swap qualities.
With Birdcage, David Claerbout explores how memory completes our visual perception, exposing that the human subject IS, in essence, time.

The work of David Claerbout has been subject of numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Kunst Museum, Winterthur;  Gallery Rudolfinum, Prague; 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, Austria; Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel; Parasol unit, London; SFMOMA, San Francisco; WIELS, Brussels, Belgium; The De Pont museum of contemporary art, Tilburg, The Netherlands and; Pompidou Center, Paris, France; The Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland; The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; and CGAC (Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea) Santiago de Compostela, Spain. 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.