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Mark Jenkins, the studio

  • Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins has been placing his incongruous sculptures on city sidewalks all over the world for approximately ten years. The street furniture is used as a perdestal and starting point for the statues he builds, molding live models he tne dresses in neutral clothes so that they merge into the flow of passers-by, unnoticed. A man plunged head first into a bin, another man kneeling in front of a woman's clothing shop window, bodies tied up in bin bags and left on the sidewalk like a Christmas tree after end-of-the-year celebrations. These are just some of the grotesque scenarios that are put together by the artist; just enough to distrub the flow of indifferent passers-by, causing surprise, trouble and laughter.

Jenkins is self-taught but despite not attending art schools he says the Juan Muñoz sculptures he discovered at the Hirshhorn Museum had a great influence on his work. Above all, Jenkins gives a new voice to a criticism of consumerism that started in the seventiues by artists using the human body as a medium to embody its alienation. Duane Hanson is one of the most exemplary: the motionless figures he stages seem deserted of all interiority. Their empty eyes doesn't even express boredom, they convey an abyssal void. Jenkins goes even further withy models whose faces are often absent. If we can recognize in Hanson or George Segal some kind of awkwardness linked to a tension between appearences and existential emptiness, Mark Jenkins forget any kind of pyschological approach. Despondent, crushed, abandoned to their fate, the stage bodies are inert objects, puppets with no trace of subjectivity.

Mark Jenkins prefers mockery tha the realistic and deliberately common situations staged by bis predecessors, he teherefore relates more naturally to Erwin Wurm. Since the 1980s and the end of ideologies, impertinence and the absurd reveal themseleves to be more efficient in order to desintegrate the fortification of individualism. As for a carnival, Mark Jenkins wants to break taboos : he withdraws the tensions and reveals what people think and lack courage to talk about. Jenkins adresses the city dwellers'anger, their frustration linked to solitude, instability, and poor housing. His public space interventions are play upon this backdrop of uneasiness. Rather than just releasing a message, Jenkins wants to yield reaction and revive interactions.

For Patricia Dorfmann's gallery, published in Palais de Tokyo's magazine, Nouvelles Vagues, summer 2013.