Mark Manders' work, now on view at the Kunsthaus Zurich, is at once mysterious, off-putting, engrossing, and sometimes down-right eerie. But throughout, the installations/sculptures of Mark Manders are extremely poetic. His installations are composed of varying pieces that are used as Lego blocks, with which he constructs his "self", and by rearranging these components, he is able to build new and different selves, or identities.
And as with all good poetry, his work is not to be read literally. Manders creates mere impressions of his biography, which alter and adjust with every new space in which he installs his work. He himself is a work in progress, and this is demonstrated through the ever-changing contours of his installations. The themes of death, alienation, loneliness, and the individual in an over-industrialized world are omnipresent in his work, in pieces like Self-Portrait of a Building, Silent Factory, and Nocturnal Garden Scene. Although all these themes, and many aspects of the installations, are auto-biographical, the ironic title, the Absence of Mark Manders, alludes to the inability to really capture the essence of a person and create an exact (self) portrait when the subject is always evolving and changing in time.
(*Images, from top to bottom: Mark Manders, Inhabited for a Survey (First Floor Plan from Self-Portrait as a Building), 1986, writing materials, erasers, painting tools, scissors, 8 x 267 x 90 cm, courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago. Mark Manders, Nocturnal Garden Scene, 2005, wood, glass, sand, and various materials, 160 x 20 x 130 cm, courtesy of S.M.A.K., Gent.