London Trip; 13/04/16 – Mark Wallinger at Hauser and Wirth, and Harpoons in the British Museum



‘SuperEgo’ is a sculptural work by Mark Wallinger. In contrast to the Id paintings, in which chaos is in control, The SuperEgo deals with control, order and perfection. The sculpture itself is an entirely mirrored form inspired by the New Scotland Yard Sign. The sign itself; a seat of authority, it is the all seeing eye in a world slowly being consumed by surveillance. An ‘Enigmatic symbol of dominance’, the perfectly mirrored, revolving form dominates the space it is in; reflecting the ordered, white walls seemingly out of it’s own mirrored surface. The mirror hints at a promise of self-reflection, and yet is high above our heads. Therefore representing a sort of removal of reflection, and the idea that self-reflection and self-determination is something controlled by this object.


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The next piece in the exhibition; ‘Orrery’ takes inspiration from the New Fairlop Oak in the centre of the Fullwell Cross Roundabout in Barkingside. Relating to the name of the mechanical model used to articulate the positions of the planets and moons; ‘Orrery’ follows a driver as he passes around the roundabout, circling the tree in a seemingly never-ending loop. The installation is set up to consist of four TV screens playing a loop of the tree on each screen; each in a certain season. Due to the four looping videos running at the same time, so that the viewer feels as if they are rotating around the tree; it evokes a strange feeling of vertigo, due to catching two of the screens in your line of eyesight. A strange and quite interesting installation, especially within the nature of this exhibition; which deals with thought, emotion, and understanding.


According to Freud, the ID, driven by the pleasure principle, is the source of all psychic energy. The paintings echo actions taken by Wallinger that are instinctive and primal, driven by a subconscious understanding of form and art; inspired by the work of the surrealists. Due to their immense size, one forgets that they are a record of Wallinger’s own body, and therefore, his own understanding of where he ends, and the rest of reality begins. Wallinger attempts to make the paintings symmetrical by utilising symmetrical actions when creating the work; but due to the nature of human fallacy, they are often, if not always, asymmetrical. This failure, and the desire to achieve the perfect symmetry, is very interesting to me in relation to the desire to find purpose through transcendence.


A trinity of ID paintings


My favourite piece of the ID series; Something about the dense blackness fading away upwards interests me; as if it’s some form of black fire.

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I have also become interested in the desire for knowledge through destruction in my work. Due to the nature of my current practice echoing the ‘Eros drive’ of freudian thought, and the desire for procreation and preservation of the self. The counterpart to this theory is the ‘Thanatos Drive’, being the death drive and the desire to die; means of abuse and self destruction fit into this notion. Related to my fascinations with Moby Dick as a literary and philosophical work, dictating the monomaniacal nature of man and his desire to control and destroy that which lies above him, in order to heighten his ‘ranking’ in the universe (relating to Nietzsche’s ‘God is Dead’ theory, and how he has been killed by human hands. thus, we must transcend to be worthy of this murder). The harpoon, specifically, the harpoon crafted by Ahab in the book to slay the whale (a metaphor for God, Nature, and the sum of all of his hatred) is a satanic, dark object; baptised in blood, and twisted like a tree struck by lightning; it is a powerful, dark symbol of Humanities desire to destroy. Due to this new avenue of exploration, I have been reseaching various harpoons and whaling weapons throughout the world in order to gain knowledge and aesthetic development for this concept. Due to this, I visited the British Museum and looked at the harpoons there. The black metal, sometimes adorned with the dead remains of animals slain by the hands of humans, are dark reminders of our primal desire to kill, fuck and eat. We are not much different to animals, due to our instincts re-appearing through means of self destruction and self preservation


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