Jens Hoffmann, Vincent Honoré, Jessica Morgan, Neville Wakefield
Sies + Höke, Duesseldorf, 2008
out of print
His career is gaining velocity in Europe and the USA. He received a commission for this year’s Frieze Art Fair in London, at which, in contrast with Richard Prince’s publicity-grabbing muscle car and bikini-clad model, he simply asked viewers to take “one minute of silence for no reason. For nobody. For nothing. Just one minute for yourself. One minute to gain or to lose, to spill or to use. Up to you.”? It was quite an audacious request, given all the schmoozing, deal making and champagne swilling that was going on.
One of Martin’s most ambitious works, Mandi VIII (2006), is a plaster cast of the iconic marble behemoth Laocoön and His Sons. The original depicts the subjects battling a massive serpent sent from the gods as punishment. Martin’s version elides the snake, allowing us to focus on the real point—the idealized beauty of the men’s struggling bodies. This sleight of hand simultaneously updates and universalizes the work, while suggesting ironically that we are fighting only with ourselves, and not with fate or any higher power. With the wrath of the gods thus removed, the notion of free will enters the now-incongruous scene.
Absurdity plays a big part in Martin’s oeuvre. He hand copied Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, resulting in 1,494 pages of text in which the name of the novel’s protagonist, Myshkin, is replaced with the artist’s own. Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) (2005) is likewise hand copied with a twist: Martin has inscribed Kafka’s entire novel on a single sheet of paper, and placed it in an ornate gold frame. The effect of the densely layered black ink is unexpectedly beautiful and meditative.