Helen Marten, Horizontal Weather (2021), via Sadie Coles
Currently on view at Sadie Coles HQ‘s Kingly Street location, artist Helen Marten presents a body of new works that continue her investigation of a space shaped by participants and her pieces simultaneously, the show here draws on the ancient philosophical metaphor of “the body politic”, taking the allegory of a single individual body into a raging grammatical city, a contemporary projection of systems, agency and the digestion of ideas.
Helen Marten, The Earth good and the stars good (wettings) (2021), via Sadie Coles
Marten, who won the Turner Prize in 2016, has long used her works as a site of accumulation and agglomeration, each piece’s respective forms and functions allowing broader systems and understandings to emerge. For this show, Marten takes an express fascination with this notion, making repeated references to the work as a body, and referencing their cohesion as a body in its own right. The surfaces are emphasized as “a proxy surrogate for arms, legs, stomach, entrails and genitals. Hung cables and conduits interconnect these walls, the whole system forming an economical diagram of a stick figure, the singularity of one body-form extending at gigantic scale across the full spread of the gallery.” Through paintings and sculptural parts, the word T E M P E R is mapped out in numerous subtle repetitions: in the literal composition of structures which form a striking resemblance to letters, and once again in the spelling of the word, dissected over a much extended area on the gallery’s final wall: TE / MP / ER.
Helen Marten, Untitled (2021), via Sadie Coles
Marten’s work emphasizes the expression and formation of the body, delving into shared functionality (or a lack thereof) throughout each work’s application towards a whole. There’s a distinct mathematics in play here, albeit a subjective one, with the experience of each work tied into a whole in subtle yet distinct manners. One can follow the logic through the lines that dart through works and point to others, creating an interconnected network of material and intention.
Helen Marten, A Tantrum Carved from Stone (2021), via Sadie Coles
It’s difficult to make express connections to notions of networked living in the 21st Century, but perhaps this is the key to Marten’s work here, realizing an imperfect body, one that finds a certain interlinkage of forms and meanings, yet always in negotiation with other forces and meanings. This might explain the frequent allusions to weather and nature that pass through the titles of the works on view. Even in the assertion of a body in space, one must contend with an exteriority, a shared “other” that here takes the form of the natural world’s progression, orbiting the body and serving as the ether that unifies its parts and participants.
The show closes October 30th.
Helen Marten, The Hot Rain (Catchy Weather) (2021), via Sadie Coles
– D. Creahan
Helen Marten: Sparrows on the Stone [Exhibition Site]