David Claerbout

in conversation with Sara Dolfi Agostini
online, 29 April 2021

David Claerbout participated in The Eye of The Storm – Blitz’s first online exhibition, part of the new online initiative OPEN – with Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain (2013). In this artwork, Claerbout deployed 3D and new media technology in order to turn a photographic instant into endless repetition and confront visual perceptions, yearning for change and hope. As the act of waiting unfolds into an existential, cyclical condition rather than a one-time event, the artwork becomes the perspective from which to examine productivity and capitalism in relation to the workers and ourselves, even more now that the Covid-19 pandemic has altered our sense of the passage of time.

David Claerbout focuses primarily on photography, video, sound, drawing, and digital arts, as well as large-scale video installation. In his works, the reconfiguration of images bestows a socio-political weight while questioning at the same time sensory authenticity and the now-disappearing system of trust between reality and its representation. The conversation will focus on Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain (2013), the evolution of Claerbout’s practice since, and his seminal text The Silence of the Lens (e-flux journal, 2016).


David Claerbout (Belgium, 1969) studied at the Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp from 1992 to 1995 and participated in the DAAD: Berlin Artists-in-Residence program from 2002 to 2003. Claerbout’s work is included in major public collections worldwide, including: Centre Georges Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C, USA; S.M.A.K, Ghent, Belgium; The Margulies Collection, Miami, Florida, USA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Collection François Pinault, Italy; FRAC Nord Pas de Calais, France; Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden, Germany; GAM Galleria D’Arte Moderna et Contemporanea, Turin, Italy and many others. He has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally, including: MAST Foundation, Palazzo Zambeccari, Bologna, Italy (2019); Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France (2018); Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2018); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2018); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, France (2017); Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain (2017); Schaulager, Basel, Switzerland (2017); BOZAR, Brussels, Belgium (2017); Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, Florida, USA (2016); De Pont Museum of Art, Tilburg, Netherlands (2016); Städelmuseum, Frankfurt, Germany (2016); MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland (2015); Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany (2015); 19th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2014); 8th Busan Biennale, South Korea (2014); Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz, Germany (2013); Secession, Vienna, Austria (2012); Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel (2012); SFMOMA, San Francisco (2011); WIELS, Brussels, Belgium (2011); De Pont museum of contemporary art, Tilburg, The Netherlands (2009); Pompidou Center, Paris, France (2007); Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2008); and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2005).

David Claerbout lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium, and Berlin, Germany. Current shows include:

Garage LAB, Moscow – link, Artforum critic’s pick
Pylon Hub, Dresden – link
Kunsthal Rotterdam – link
Project Space on the Inside, Amsterdam – link
Kunstmuseum Basel – link


In seven years of activities as a contemporary art space, Blitz has organized several exhibitions, plus conferences, workshops, and talks, including a three-year residency project (2015-2018) which received mentions by ArtBasel Crowdfunding initiative and Tate Art Exchange Programme. Since 2019, Blitz has kicked off a new series of exhibitions in and outside of Malta. Blitz’s international programme reflects the institution’s commitment to support and showcase Malta-based artists abroad, including high profile international platforms dedicated to non-profit art spaces. Simultaneously, our exhibition and public programmes at home are currently focused on established international artists, such as Rossella Biscotti, Rob Pruitt, Cory Arcangel, Amalia Ulman, Sara Cwynar, Simon Denny, Ahmet Ögüt and Tobias Zielony. Their works have never been exhibited in Malta before, yet specifically resonate with Malta’s unique history, culture and social landscape as much as with the major challenges of our present society. For Blitz, Malta is an inspiring artistic laboratory offering a bridge between past and future, from the Megalithic temples, Baroque churches and masterpieces by Caravaggio, to the growing internet, fintech, blockchain, and new media industries. Moreover, with its unique location in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta offers the potential for a regional and multiethnic dialogue about a hybrid culture of Europe and North Africa, regardless of geopolitical boundaries.