David Claerbout

Kortijk Belgium 1969, lives and works in Antwerp

Single channel video installation, color, sound
17 min. 54 sec. ed. 1/5

Sunrise (2009), an 18 minute video installation, thrusts viewers into near-total darkness, requiring their eyes to acclimatise to the film which depicts a nocturnal scene inside a villa. A maid is seen setting up breakfast, the deliberate movements of this archetypal figure elegantly conforming to the severe geometries and exact proportions of the house. Through its exaggerated sense of composition the architecture presents itself as a sleeping monument to a past Utopia, or perhaps a prison for life. Yet rather than witnessing its stirring to life, the camera follows the girl as she finishes her shift and cycles off into the surrounding countryside. The darkness gives way to sudden and brilliant sunlight, momentarily blinding the viewer again as Rachmaninov’s Vocalise is heard. The balance of the film turns in these final minutes from mute perfection to a flood of emotion. Although filmed as a classical end sequence, it feels like a beginning.