Since 1986, Mark Manders has been engaged in what he calls his “Self-Portrait as a Building,” an ongoing and monumental project that has come to define his overall practice. Language, as title, content, and formal structure, remains a key element of his process, in which objects are accumulated in a manner that replicates sentences. As the artist explains, “this building can shrink or expand at any moment… all words created by mankind are on hand.” In effect, Manders gives thoughts physical form, his hypothetical building becoming an evolving space through which he investigates the process of thinking.
His installations employ everyday objects (sugar, tea bags, a pencil, a toothpaste tube) as narrative subjects. The ordinariness of the objects imbues the work with a poetic tension—things are familiar but, isolated from their original function, somehow wrong. The installations typically include roughly modeled figures and modern furnishings that have been altered, combined in surreal ways, or reduced in size just enough to create an alienating effect (for example, to 88 percent of their normal size). Manders ultimately creates mysterious and uncanny sculptural tableaux—part still life, part exquisite corpse. In so doing, Manders makes a physical as well as mental space for the viewer to “enter the world of objects and matter and find poetry in it...and to know how poorly we normally see our daily life.”
Co-organized with the Hammer Museum, where the exhibition is on view through
January 2, 2011, and traveling to the Walker Art Center after its run at the AAM (June 2 – September 11, 2011) and the Dallas Museum of Art (January 15 – April 15, 2012), Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue designed in close collaboration with the artist and featuring new texts by exhibition curators Douglas Fogle and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, as well as Peter Eleey, Curator at MoMA PS1, and Yasmil Raymond, Curator at the Dia Art Foundation.
Mark Manders currently lives and works in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and Ronse, Belgium. Recent exhibitions include The Absence of Mark Manders, Kunstverein Hanover, Hanover, Germany, which traveled to Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway; S.M.A.K. Ghent, Belgium, and Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, 2007–2009 (solo); Walking in My Mind, The Hayward Gallery, London, 2009 (group); The Quick and the Dead, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 2009 (group); and Life on Mars, the 55th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, 2008 (group); among others.