The Human Figure in Space
Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger will unveil a series of playful, thought-provoking and previously unseen works in an exhibition opening at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, this month. The show is inspired by the seaside setting of the gallery and by 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering work The Human Figure in Motion.
Strung tightly around three walls of the Foreshore Gallery will be three miles of kite line deployed as a space-defining graph. The fourth wall is mirrored so that the reflected version of ourselves lies quantifiably in another space; the image in the mirror looks back like a wide-eyed camera obscura. The study of movement that once held people suspended in time now returns us to the still co-ordinates of the gallery space.
All works are being shown for the first time in the UK and Birdman – created specifically for the show – is befitting for the seaside location of Jerwood Gallery. The piece features cropped details taken from images of contestants at the International Birdman competition, which takes place on the Sussex coast. Mark explains: “Isolated against the sky, these would-be aeronauts conjure with myth and wilful slapstick, bathos and pathos. The dream of flight that started in Greek mythology with Icarus and Daedalus and continued through a myriad of figures from cultures worldwide, is here very much end-of-the-pier.”
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, the final piece in the exhibition, is reminiscent of the looping movements that Muybridge animated in his zoopraxiscope (a device for displaying moving images, considered an important predecessor of the cinema projector). Five screens will show footage of people in precarious positions, leaving you questioning whether they are comedic or heroic.