06/19/99 - 08/01/99
London-based Mark Wallinger (b. 1959 in Chigwell) is regarded as an intellectual and politically committed artist. His works include painting, photography, video, and installations. In these works he has often addressed the question of his nation's identity in regard to social and cultural history.
He has strongly expanded this aspect in the spatial image created for Portikus. It reflects the influence his stay in Rome last winter had on him. He was at the British School there on a Henry Moore grant and came in contact with classical mythology and English literature.
Wallinger divides the exhibition space at Portikus in the front half by a wall, creating two different-size rooms. When visitors come in through the main entrance, they face a double-door, which opens automatically when approached. They then see the seat of an electric chair attached to the centre of the back wall. The frontal view is thus transformed to a view from above, like "a kind of God's eye view", which seems to tilt the second room by 90°. Wallinger calls this Prometheus, "referring to Greek mythology as well as to Frankenstein".
The impression of a tilted room is increased by two square photographs hanging to the sides, also tilted by 90° and spanning the height of Portikus. These photographs each show a fist, with the word LOVE tattooed on the fingers of one, and HATE on the other.
There is a further element in this room which Wallinger calls Ariel. Behind the automatic double-door, Wallinger centrally placed a circular metal tube with an attached apparatus: a pole with one end formed to an eyelet, which can be run along the tube. Only when the eyelet does not touch the metal pipe does the continuous humming of the apparatus cease. The measurements of the circle correspond to the Vitruvian proportions of the artist.
A video shown in the anteroom above the door to the second room, as well as the texts in the catalogue serve as a synthesis of these spatial elements. The video plays the singing of Ariel, the airy spirit in Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The catalogue includes texts ranging from Peter Shelley, author of the verse drama "Prometheus Unbound", Mary Shelley, author of the famous Gothic novel "Frankenstein", to Leonardo ("The God of Proportion") and a sonnet by the artist himself.