Martin Kersels

Five songs

The structure Five Songs is a choir made of five strange and orange, black and white module-stages, open for any performative or artistic proposition. Five worlds given to appropriation by the first passer-by as long as she/he agrees to play the game, a guitar in hand. Five potential songs that he named in anticipation with the generous casualness that characterises his entire work. He envisaged them loud (Loud Song_), familial (Family Song_), sung (Sing Song_), composite (_Stuff Song) and even nautical (Ship Song).

To whomever will grab the microphone and interpret this foretold cacophony as she/he wishes. And indeed, there is enough there to turn these five “singles in progress” into one’s own creation.

—Étienne Bernard

Martin Kersels, Vue de l’exposition Five Songs , à la Galerie GP & N Vallois, 2010 Mixed media — 120 1/8 × 49 1/4 × 60 5/8 in. Collection MAC Lyon; Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris
Rickety’s Ghost, 2010

Rickety’s Ghost, a video installation, is the ghost of a ballet in which the dancers are only suggested by marks on the floor, an explicit reference to the film Dogville by lars Von Trier. The work becomes the base holding these bodies that brush past and look for each other in a dance of mixed attraction and repulsion.

—Albertine de Galbert

Martin Kersels, Rickety’s Ghost (with Dark Spirits, Dance, and a Television), 2010 Exhibition view « La distance juste », at Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris — 47 1/4 × 216 1/2 × 165 3/8 in. Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris / Photo : Aurélien Mole
Fat Iggy

With Fat Iggy (2009), the artist does a pastiche of Iggy Pop, who as thin as a rake, with bulging muscles, represents in the collective imagination the ultimate performer. In borrowing the improbable poses of the leader of the Stooges, Kersels puts himself in an unconfortable position — both literally and figuratively — with the aim of deconstructing the myth of the rock star, leaving the onlooker both amused and somewhat ill at ease in front of this body which is not altogether cut out to reproduce the lascivious swaying of the « Iguana ».

— Antoine Marchand, Volume, 2013

Martin Kersels, Fat Iggy n°3, 2009 Black & white photograph — Series of 7 photographs, each: 13 3/4 × 19 5/8 in. — edition of 6 Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris
Rickety, 2006

Rickety is a scene waiting for a singer, dancer or performer to be set in motion, with Kersels completely removing himself to make way for the artists invited to make use of them. Through this installation, he seeks to bring the body back into the gallery. He manages to transcend the relationship to the body as it is usually seen in performance and sculpture, while at the same time subtly probing the notions of author and authenticity.

—Antoine Marchand, Volume, 2013

Martin Kersels, Rickety, 2006 Exhibition view « Heavyweight Champion », The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga, U.S.A., 2007 — Performance «Huh?» in collaboration with choreographer Melinda Ring
Sleeper’s Dream

This monumental sculpture created especially for the exhibition at the MassMoca was inspired by « Beauport », the eccentric house of a prominent Boston academic from the early 20th Century, H.D. Sleeper. But above all, it is a house inside a boot, a fairytale house inspired by dreams from our childhood.

In this work, we found a common theme that was also present in other works by Martin Kersels such as Fat Man: a play on the gap between innocence and a naive interpretation of the world and its reality.

Martin Kersels, Sleeper’s Dream, 2003 Mixed media — 196 7/8 × 137 3/4 × 56 in. Exhibition view « Yankee Remix », MASSMoca, U.S.A. (2003)
Fat Man

Fat Man, an installation displayed at the gallery, has been inspired by the nickname given to the atomic bomb launched on Nagasaki in 1945. A replica of the bomb, flabby and covered up with 18,000 mirrors, is stranded like a huge sparkling whale, right in the middle of the gallery. Visitors turn up and get reflected in a thousand pieces.

A small and empty bag, entitled « Thank you for shopping with us », is sliding and swirling along the walls. A Halloween-costumed teenager-tall ghost is drifting above Fat Man who is obviously getting an erection at this sight.

Martin Kersels, Sans titre, 0 Exhibition view « Fat Man » at Galerie GP & N Vallois Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris

Subsequently, his activity veered towards actions which sometimes took place in the street in front of passers-by, but only really existed, strictly speaking, in the form of traces represented by films and photographs. More specifically, he could be seen falling down in the street (Tripping, 1995), falling flat on his back (Falling, 1994), getting his friends to hit him (Friends Smacking Me, 1998), throwing those same friends (Tossing a Friend, 1996), and holding them by their feet and spinning them (Whirling, 1996).

Martin Kersels, Falling Photos 7, 1997 Triptych, C-print — 40 × 59 7/8 in. Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris
Martin Kersels, Tripping Photos #2 (Melrose), 1995 Triptych, C-print — 24 3/4 × 34 1/4 in.

Martin Kersels


Drawing, installation, performance, photography, sculpture

American artist born in 1960 in Los Angeles, United States. 

Yalle, United States

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