Mark Wallinger | MARK


carlier | gebauer is glad to present two recent works by Mark Wallinger. The idea of ‘marking’ objects with his own name would continue, and expand into the public realm. In MARK, produced over the summer of 2010, Wallinger’s self-conscious performance of self-centredness would absorb vast swathes of London, the city that has so regularly been a backdrop for his art. Across the capital, from Clapham Junction to Mayfair to Camden Town, and many points between – he recorded his chalking of the work ‘MARK’ within the parameters of single standard sized brick. The consistency of scale and the centring of this ‘MARK’ makes a deadpan vanishing point that sits still while, figuratively, the city changes about it. In a digitally rendered, photographic slideshow, 2.265 images appear every three seconds, over a span of nearly two hours. Within this comically affectless tagging was, once again, a performed attempt to ‘get a grip on things’ on small and large scales. Given that bricks are, as Wallinger says, ‘as ubiquitous as people’, those things might readily include oneself and one’s position in a larger scheme of things. If, as he suggests, ‘naming and numbering are in some kind of relationship at the limit of use or uselessness,’ there’s a fine line being walked here between controlling one’s environment and accepting how insignificant one is within it. 

Wallinger‘s relationship with the city has been central to a number of his works over the years, but Shadow Walker is perhaps a work most clearly indebted to Charles Baudelaire’s idea of the flaneur, that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it […] For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.” A figure that is simultaneously part of and apart, combining sociological, anthro-pological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace.

The sun was shining and Wallinger discovered a way of recording his shadow walking along Shaftesbury Avenue, past the theatres and restaurants and the shops hawking souvenirs. He was aware that his feet were coming to meet his shadow at the edge of the viewfinder but after a while the shadow assumed such presence that the reality of his sandaled feet became contingent on the shadow’s existence rather than its progenitor. It moved fluidly over passing strangers and slid up and down the kerbstones – the shadow defined against the palimpsest of chewed gum, spilt alcohol and worse – London’s “voluptuous extremes,” that decorate the streets around Soho.

Beyond the usual associations of our shadow nature in mythology and psychology, in London shadows have their own particular history, a lost past, where it is winter, after dark, and human shadows are the product of lamplight or limelight: theatrical and phantasmagoric. In film and drama they precede murderers and vampires or they are at one remove entirely from the host body, like Peter Pan’s lost shadow or Sherlock Holmes iconic silhouette. There is none of the glorious anonymity of the spectator that Baudelaire identified with modernity. “By ‘modernity’ I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable.”

Wallinger was born in Chigwell in 1959. He lives and works in London. He studied at Chelsea School of Art, London (1978-81) and Goldsmiths’ College, London (1983-85). Since the mid-1980s Wallinger’s primary concern has been to establish a valid critical approach to the ‘politics of representation and the representation of politics. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1995 and represented Britain at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. He received the Turner Prize in 2007. His work is currently on view at De Pont Museum in Tilburg, Netherlands. Thames & Hudson published in October 2011 the monograph „Mark“ on the artist‘s work.

Installation Views

  • Mark Wallinger, MARK, exhibition view at carlier | gebauer, 2011

  • Mark Wallinger, MARK, exhibition view at carlier | gebauer, 2011