carlier : gebauer is proud to present Mark Wallinger’s fourth solo show at the gallery.
Steine, 2010. One thousand numbered stones cover the floor in the main room. What is this a system of ordering’ What happens if we give a thing a number’ It is no taxonomy, being precisely nonsensical, inscribing the futility of the task of understanding on intransigent matter. These stones, with their inherent contrast of human labour and the monumental timescale of geology, catalyse thoughts of mortality, of catalogues of the vanished and the anonymous.
There is unease here as there is in contemplating the surrounding photographs - camera phone snaps taken from websites dedicated to images of unknown people who have fallen asleep on public transport. Now these stolen souls, grotesquely magnified, make up The Unconscious, 2010. Liberated from the tense consciousness of the waking state, their faces seem to exist somewhere beyond them, and yet, following an unconscious ordering principle, they resemble themselves more in this lapsed state than when awake. Wallinger’s inversions of individual and social consciousness are continued in a series of further compositions in this exhibition.
Word, 2010, a wall filled with the text of The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250 ‘1918, the entire anthology, also begins anonymously, before the familiar roll call of the great poets. However all punctuation, grammatical and syntactical signs have been removed. How to find the rhythm and rhyme - all the different verse forms as they evolved, as the language changed and mutated, when the music and the sense are reduced to the lower case constituent letters of the alphabet run together as a stream of consciousness lain down in sediments of time’ Without titles, devoid of those conventions that otherwise endow this publication with its incontrovertible authority, a single word containing centuries of linguistic and aesthetic evolution.
Bewitched was an American situation comedy concerning the domestic life of a man and his wife, who was a witch. It ran for eight series between 1964 until 1972 and The Magic of Things, 2010, edits together, in chronological order, all the unpopulated moments and spaces where acts of sorcery occur; in scenes that reference memories of suburban culture, in locations peripheral to the main action, in its unconscious interiors. Removed from their agency, floating tea cups, self-mending mirrors and a car that arrives from the afterlife through the living room wall all acquire a level of supernaturalism as the internal rationale of the fiction is removed. There is an awkward parity here between The Magic of Things and contemporary art’s exorcism of the ‘aura’ of the artwork, where inanimate material becomes animated by the recipient of cherished ideas and peerless skills of the now absent artist. And yet for all the obvious trickery we are not disenchanted.
In the second room in the exhibition Wallinger opens up an auditorium: one hundred second-hand chairs, all different, have been organised in ten miscellaneous rows of ten. Quite literally, making a/his mark, the word MARK is handwritten in marker pen on the rear of each chair’s back-rest and white threads run like perspective lines from each of these to meet their vanishing point, an ‘eye’ high up on the wall they are facing. We know the world through our senses, but appearances can betray us. Name the mark, mark the name: creator and subject, subject and creator. To tie meaning down, to own the things we see and touch is the act of a megalomaniac. In According to Mark, 2010, everything belongs to MARK. In the reflection of the gaze the artist becomes his own audience here, his only perspective. In his book ‘The Logic of Sense’, Gilles Deleuze describes a critique of the dominant ideology, which no longer seeks to pull back the curtain behind which it assumes truth will be found, but instead feels its way across the curtain, moving along it and mimicking its structures. Wallinger’s works unfurl across this surface. In his oeuvre social consciousness is dragged up to the surface. ‘