Saturday, May 10, 2008

text from White Cube dot com...

Kris Martin

Whether by marking its passing or transcending the present Kris Martin’s practice questions the notion of time and our desire to comprehend it. His diverse use of the readymade from the antique relic to the highly engineered or more ephemeral and immaterial interventions provoke a space for uncertainty, enquiry and existential reasoning.

His objects and interventions provoke a state of mind – an occasion to consider a situation or predicament – as much as they create a visual experience. During the Berlin Biennale Martin installed Mandi III (2003), a monochromatic departures board at the back of St. Johannes-Evangelist Church. The work provided no information, instead continuously rotating through blank screens that provoked the viewer to consider the uncharted nature of mans journey through life.

At the Frieze Art Fair in 2007 Martin orchestrated an intervention amid the hubbub of the opening reception. Without prior warning, a woman’s voice came over the loudspeakers and asked fairgoers to observe ‘one minute of silence for no reason. For nobody. For nothing. Just one minute for yourself.’ The work removed the viewers from the everyday activity of looking at and dealing in art, and allowed them to enter a new, seemingly free mental space of pure contemplation. The work itself is a kind of absence that demanded a heightened level of vigilance to the present moment and one’s immediate surroundings. Other works take the form of a kind of riddle.

100 years (2004), a golden metal orb, is, according to the artist, set to explode after a century. The work sets off a number of questions about the value of objects invested with ideas by an artist, the sincerity of those ideas, and the transience of the artistic gesture. Vase, a large scale blue and white porcelain vase is smashed by Martin each time its location changes. He then systematically reassembles it piece by piece. Having recently been shown for its third time at PS1, the vase endures signs of irreparable damage that again question our notions of value, perfection and artistic preservation.

In a series of works on paper the role of authorship is challenged by Martin. Here he hand-writes the 1,494 pages of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot, replacing the main protagonist’s name, Myshkin with his own. Conversely, in an additional series, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is distilled on to a single sheet of paper to the point obliteration. This process of dematerialization is the theme of Endpoints whereby the artist collages the final punctuation point or mark from various literary classics including Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories.

Kris Martin was born in 1972 and is based in Ghent, Belgium. Solo shows include Marc Foxx, Los Angeles (2008), P.S.1, MoMA, New York (2007), Sies + Höke Galerie, Düsseldorf (2007) and Johann König, Berlin (2006). Group shows include ‘Traces du sacré’, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), ‘Passengers’, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2007), ‘Learn to Read’, Tate Modern, London (2007) and ‘Of Mice and Men: 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art’ (2006).


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