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The Golden Ass and Other Stories: New work by Mark Jenkins

Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009

Washington D.C. based artist Mark Jenkins’ (Juxtapoz #84) new show, The Golden Ass and Other Stories, will be on display March 21st through April 25th, 2009 at Stricola Contemporary in New York City. If you’ve gotten as big a kick out of his infamous street installations as we have, then this news should be of paramount interest to you.

Mark Jenkins is an artist most widely known for his realistic human sculptures and packing tape street installations. Jenkins and his sculptures migrate indoors for this, his first solo show in New York City. He presents a medley of new works including the premier of a series of collages that transport his usual 3 dimensional figures into new and incongruous scenarios.

Documentary photographs of characters, such as the The Golden Ass, are extracted from their usual street environment, and then montaged with found and altered landscapes. Jenkins sources his background environments from Google, which are then layered to create landscape 'mashups'.

In re-contextualizing his characters and their environments, Jenkins creates 2 dimensional versions of the absurdist visions dramatized in his street work. By sampling and remixing his own work in this way, Jenkins moves from street illusionist to storyteller. At the same time, he extends the themes first seen in his 2006 Embed Series, merging his packing tape world and other hybridized figures into a physical-mythological composite.

The Golden Ass, a figure from Lucius Apuleius’ ancient Roman novel of the same name, is one of Jenkins’ reoccurring characters. The book relates the adventures of Lucius, a virile young man whose obsession with magic gets him transformed into an ass. Originally Jenkins’ Golden Ass statue appeared on a street in Barcelona, populated by tourists and living Statues, or people who pretend to be statues in hopes of earning a few euros. The irony of having a real statue competing for tips with false statues becomes completely absurd as pedestrians gather to ogle the Ass. (The Golden Ass, Embed Series video, 2009) This character now appears in Jenkins’ collages, silently watching as a giant woman perform felatio on a rainbow (Under the Rainblow, 2009). In the ancient novel and in Jenkins’ work, the Ass, like the Artist, stands as witness and commentator to humanities strange machinations.

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