From today ( 22 June) the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art presents a major exhibition by celebrated British artist Mark Wallinger. Nominated twice for the Turner Prize, once in 1995 and again in 2007 when he won, Wallinger is one of the best known figures in the British art world. In 1999 his Ecce Homo occupied Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth to great critical acclaim and in 2001.
Wallinger represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. For SITE, the artist’s largest exhibition in the UK for over a decade, Wallinger will realise three new commissions: 1000000000000000, The Other Wall and SELF PORTRAIT (Times New Roman). It will also mark the UK premiere of his recent film Construction Site 2011. SITE continues BALTIC’s longstanding commitment to commissioning new work from the world’s most exciting artists as it celebrates its 10th anniversary year.
Site is the location of an event, a structure, an object or other thing, whether actual, virtual, abandoned, extant or planned. Combining a subtlety of means, wry humour and an eye for the overlooked, Wallinger turns sites of the everyday into transcendental possibilities, questioning how we categorise and understand the world, or sometimes neglect to. Systemising the randomness of nature, 10000000000000000 2012 catalogues and compares 65,536 found stones. Each stone, roughly uniform in size, occupies its own square on a vastly extended checkerboard — the simplest binary device for imposing order. The huge structure makes manifest something that is essentially abstract: 10000000000000000 is the binary form of the number 65,536 in decimal, a superperfect number. Taking its form from this number, 10000000000000000 is a structure that ultimately seems only to reason with itself, albeit in perpetual order.
The Other Wall, in contrast, sees randomness contained in the form of a brick wall. Each of the many thousand bricks used to create it is numbered sequentially by hand prior to construction and then distributed with no order. The walls’ final form provides only one of the several million possible permutations that there could have been. Mark 2012 continues Wallinger’s longstanding habit of writing his name on walls throughout central London and beyond. Written in chalk, he will make his mark on the exterior of the building. A further ode to the self will cover BALTIC’s north facade. SELF PORTRAIT (Times New Roman) 2012 comprises the letter ‘I’ written in black in the ubiquitous font – today’s default mode of self representation?
Construction Site records three professional scaffolders erecting and then dismantling a structure on a beach. Showcasing an activity easily overlooked and peripheral to the real task of building, our attention focuses upon the skill, the trust and the potential perils that are borne so lightly by the three anonymous figures in white t-shirts. Framed by the horizon line of the sea, the shingle and the sky, chance and order once again collide: the discipline of the workers abutting with the unpredictability and ever-changing natural world around them.
MARK WALLINGER born 1959, lives and works in London. Attended Chelsea School of Art, London from 1978 – 81 and graduated with a MA from Goldsmiths College, London in 1985. He was awarded the Ebbsfleet Landmark
MARK WALLINGER SITE Friday 22 June – Sunday 14 October 2012