Cut Ups

24 August - 5 October 2012

Film Montage Works

by Christian Marclay, Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg


Why not make art from Hollywood movie clips? Mixing and remixing are widespread compositional techniques in contemporary culture. In this exhibition, movie clips are digitally combined to make altogether new compositions. Two works are here presented simultaneously. The work on the TV monitor by Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay, titled Telephones (1995), is a very early example of this artist's technique of assembling film bits to set up loose narrative connections that leap from one clip to the next. In Christian Marclay's words, "When you get that sync between the elements, it's like magic."  The work projected on the wall, Doomed (2007), by Australian artist Tracey Moffatt (in collaboration with Gary Hillberg), presents one form of monstrous catastrophe after another, accompanied by a cheezy fast-paced musical score. Tongue firmly in cheek, she critiques the popular spectacularization of disaster.

The collage technique, first made from assembling cut-and-pasted pieces of paper taken from disparate sources to create something new, has permeated virtually every art form throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, expanding with each different technology it touches.



From French artist Pablo Picasso's Still-Life with Chair Caning (1912) to the montage technique introduced in Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein's silent movie Potemkin (1925), to the practice of DJs who mix and sample music, the method has many precedents. In the visual arts field, video art became a viable medium in the 1970s, after the 1967 introduction of the Portapak camera, which was affordable and accessible to people outside the movie business. The remixing practices seen here have expanded more recently, facilitated by Final Cut Pro video-editing software which was introduced to the market in 1999.

Legally speaking, the United States' principle of "fair use" (which is even more lenient than the Commonwealth nations' principle of "fair dealing") allows the quoting of other copyrighted material, or intellectual property, as long as the new composition is considered transformative rather than derivative. Fair use allowance also tends to favor short bits rather than extensive reuse.



With the public accessibility of more moving images than anyone could have imagined just ten years ago, it seems natural that they are now art material too.



Christian Marclay (b. 1955, California) is a Swiss-American visual artist and composer who lives in New York and London. His innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Born in California in 1955 and raised in Geneva (Switzerland), he studied at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art Visuel from 1977 - 1980 in Geneva, Switzerland. From 1977 - 1980 he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He also studied as a visiting scholar at Cooper Union in New York in 1978. As performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique "theater of found sound." Christian Marclay offers a unique, fresh and innovative voice that has inspired an entire generation of musicians, artists and theorists. Marclay is represented by White Cube, London, and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.



Tracey Moffatt (b. 1960, Brisbane, Australia) received her BA in visual communications from the Queensland College of Art in 1982. After graduating, Moffatt moved to Sydney, where she commenced her stylistically diverse body of films and photography that investigate issues such as race, childhood trauma, and the media. Since 1989, she has held numerous solo exhibitions in major museums around the world. Her short film Night Cries was selected for official competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, followed by her first feature film, beDevil, in 1993. In 1997, she exhibited in Aperto at the Venice Biennale and at the Dia Center for the Arts, New York in 1997/98. Comprehensive survey exhibitions of her work have been held at the Museum of Contemporary Art (2003), Sydney and the Hasselblad Centre in Goteburg, Sweden (2004). A recipient of the 2007 Infinity Award for art by the International Center of Photography, New York, Moffatt recently had a retrospective of her films and videos at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Moffatt is represented in North America by Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York and has been represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, since 1998. 


Gary Hillberg (b. Perth, Australia) works an experimental filmmaker and music video producer, since the late 1980s. Most recently, he co-directed a series of filmic montages in collaboration with Tracey Moffatt. In 2008, Hillberg and Moffatt presented REVOLUTION, a study of the stereotypes associated with revolution in movies. Hillberg currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.




Works in the exhibition:


Christian Marclay

Telephones, 1995

Single channel video with sound on monitor

7 minutes 30 seconds

Courtesy White Cube, London


Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg

DOOMED, 2007

Single channel video with sound

10 minute continuous loop

Courtesy of the artists and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney