Serpentine South Gallery 26 Aug 2011 Free

Written and composed in response to the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 designed by Peter Zumthor, this video work by Helen Marten is structured around a scripted text delivered via CGI columns, rap and cathartic slapstick.

The work of young, London-based artist Helen Marten is underpinned by an examination of contemporary social codes alongside reflections on mercantile grubbiness. In this spirit of cultural thievery, the artist reconfigures everyday impulses into new forms of material space. With some measure of cruelty and violence, Dust and Piranhas unfolds a knotty love letter to object and artefact.

How to protect beauty from dust and piranhas

How to promote beauty to dust and piranhas

The idea is that it’s worth getting underneath the Arcadian patina of optimism to say that the alibi of the boys and girls that run in slow motion along Hawaiian beaches with their hair blowing in the wind and their smiling white teeth because their toothpaste is infallible, is in actual fact an alibi that won’t stand examination, not for one second.

If you’re hooked on urban living, become an internationalist. Cross borders. Check out Kuwait. Check out London. Check into Caracas. Read the National Geographic. Drink sweet fennel tea, throw bone out the door and eat cheesecake way past it’s sell-by date, wallow in irresistible texture, in thickness and the blank white taste of nothing.

You can do better than that.

Aren’t you ashamed?

We’ll change the subject…

Is soft pile more affirming than carpet tiles? Would you know how to fire at a B-52? (yes) (no) and at an F 104 (yes) (no) have you ever been to a fortune-teller or magician? (yes) (no) have you ever seen one working on a General Town Plan? (yes) (no) if you see seagulls in the city along the river, do you think they have flown up the river from the sea or that your city has followed the river down to the sea?…………………….

Helen Marten was born in 1985 in Macclesfield and currently lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include Take a stick and make it sharp at Johann König, Berlin (solo), Wicked Patterns at T293, Naples (solo), Hasta Mañana, at Greene Naftali, New York, a group exhibition curated by Catherine Sullivan at Catherine Bastide, Brussels and Boule to braid (curated by Richard Wentworth), Lisson Gallery, London. Forthcoming exhibitions and projects include Beyond Gestaltung at Bielefelder Kunstverein, Lafayette Prize, FIAC, Paris (with Johann König) and a solo show a Kunsthalle Zürich (2012). She was shortlisted for the 2011 LUMA Award.

Huge thanks to Adam Sinclair for his painstaking animation and modelling; Ed Waring and Katie Harkin for their respective sound treatment, mastering and composition; and Laura Marten, Tom Green and Muxacb Smaczylo for their voices and patience.


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