Helen Marten: Drunk Brown House at Serpentine Sackler
Sculptor Helen Marten is one of four nominees in contention for this year’s Turner Prize. Her offering in the exhibition currently on display in Tate Britain is a snapshot of her unique artistic style. Over in Hyde Park, however, the Serpentine Sackler gallery is hosting a concurrent exhibition of Marten’s art, providing a much more comprehensive overview of her current work and a deep insight into her artistic practice.
Helen Marten: Drunk Brown House encompasses text, screen-printed paintings and sculpture. The effect is one of assemblage, where found objects and hand-crafted items are combined to create unexpected configurations. Bright green chicken drumsticks sit against delicate ceramics and a baby’s cot is inset with a sink, subtly drawing out illogical object-driven narratives.
The entrance to the gallery is partly filled with a skeletal white metal structure suspended from the ceiling, reminiscent of the rib cage of a whale in a museum. The effect is particularly powerful when the industrial quality of the metal is contrasted with the assemblages of objects on the gallery floor, which suggest a potent bodily human presence in Marten’s use of textiles and elements of children’s games.
Viewing Marten’s work is like looking at an archaeological excavation; layers of meaning are constantly uncovered and tiny details can be extrapolated outwards to form wider associations. Marten has said about her work: “I’m really interested in the point at which things become husked down to geometric memories of themselves, where a house, for instance, a pair of legs or a cat could be communicated with huge economy and speed via just a few lines.”
Helen Marten: Drunk Brown House is a masterful example of powerful art being displayed to great effect, in sympathy with the unique architecture of its setting. Whatever the outcome of the Turner Prize, this exhibition is definitely worth seeing.
Photos: Annik Wetter
Helen Marten: Drunk Brown House is at Serpentine Sackler from 19th September until 20th November 2016, for further information visit here.