OPHELIA

20 min
Live Performance + Video Sculpture
MIAMI: DECEMBER 2017
NEW YORK: FEBRUARY 2018
SAN FRANCISCO: MARCH 2018
BOLIVIA: MAY 2018
COLOGNE: SEPTEMBER 2018
BERLIN: OCTOBER 2018
ROME: NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018
SINDELFINGEN: FEBRUARY 2019
LONDON: TBD 2019
2017 to 2019

OPHELIA is an architectural live performance and video sculpture, focusing on the human destruction of the biosphere. OPHELIA invokes historical icons Ophelia (John Everett Millais, 1852), Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Jeff Koons, 1985), and The Werld (Daniil Kharms, 1939)—merging body, art, science, and technology to parallel relationships between the Anthropocene age and gender inequality, speaking to the democratizing power of the meme. Floating in a salt-water solution in a life-size stainless steel sarcophagus, wearing a breathing mask and Ophelia’s dress, the artist Nadja Verena Marcin will quote text from Daniil Kharms’ The Werld about our limited human subjective perception. The image of a nineteenth-century Ophelia, supported via a breathing mask and reconfigured within a technologically constructed reality, becomes a metaphor for our current state of existence in the Anthropocene Period. Awarded a Franklin Furnace Fund Grant and sponsored by a successful Kickstarter campaign, OPHELIA was unveiled as video-sculpture during Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 at CONTEXT Art Miami’s VIP Lounge, and highlighted both in Artnet's Everything You Need to Know About All 23 Artfairs at Art Basel Miami Beach and Hyperallergic's Your Concise Guide Miami Art Week 2017. Following the video-sculpture’s premiere in Miami, the project’s next iteration premiered the live performance at Fridman Gallery in New York, as the opening act of the New Ear Festival of sound and performance art, on February 2, 2018. After Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, curated by Amy Kisch of AKArt, the work will travel to Nube Gallery in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (April); SomoS in Berlin as part of the Gallery Weekend Berlin (April / May); Moltekerei e.V. in Cologne, Germany as part of the DC Open Gallery Weekend (September); AlbumArte in Rome, Italy, curated by Giulia Casalini of Arts Feminism Queer (November / December); and Museum Schauwerk in Sindelfingen, Germany (February 2019). The Goethe Institut of San Francisco will accompany the exhibition with panels, lectures, and workshops. Marcin’s work has been presented at: ZKM - Museum for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Zendai MOMA, Shanghai (Himalajas Museum); Museo National de Arte, La Paz; Veneto Videoart Archive, Verona; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; ICA Philadelphia; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow; Palacio Portales, Cochabamba; Haus der Kunst, Munich, and other venues. OPHELIA has been made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and with general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts.

New Cube

5.46 min
Live Performance
Denniston Hill
Glen Wild, New York
2017

The live performance "New Cube" highlights competing physical and mental states to describe the relationship between body, site and psyche. Whilst reading from a narrative about a woman being expelled from her cube, Marcin is walking on the tilted roof of the historical house of the Denniston Hill residency. She interesects the parable story with lyrics of „Blurred lines“, the famous misogynist song by Robin Thicky in which nude models showcase their bodies to words as "You‘re a good girl! / Can‘t let it get past me / Me fall from plastic / Talk about getting blasted“. Her performance culminates in an ironic repetition of "Good girl!“ and the final releasing jump from the roof into a life net held by members of the audience, literally shifting the audience‘s responsibility from witness to becoming life savers. The project was realized with the kind support of the Denniston Hill residency and Andy Leider.

La Mujer II

14.17 min
Live Performance
4th Festival de Cimientos
Casa de Mayorazgo, Cochabamba
2016

On a road trip through the Chapare region Marcin witnesses a tragic event: A woman violently murdered, laying naked and stretched out along the rocks underneath the bridge Coni, surrounded by a group of police officers and locals. While working through the trauma in reaction to the crime, Marcin uncovers its symbolical power. This victim of a lynching, apparently common in this rural area, becomes a symbol for a society that has lost grace. With La Mujer, Marcin revives the image of the fallen woman inside a live performance. A humongous sculpture of a greenish pale woman body with bloody red spots lays stretched out over the courtyard of the Goethe Center. During the performance Marcin stands on the upper level of the courtyard and climbs onto a 13ft (4m) long slim wooden board in 16ft (5m) height and cites abstractions from Jelinek‘s „Sleeping Beauty.“ The text speaks to the ambiguity of embodiment, transitioning through conscious, subconscious and unconscious states. Marcin embodies this emotional forlornness by placing herself onto a slim jumping board, representing a dream-like state where one is vulnerable to risk, the concrete courtyard below representing wakefulness. The physical fear of falling is evaded through the meditative act of reading the text out loud and through the final unleashing jump, a physical manifestation to defy the fear of death, submit to gravity and its grounding force of life, landing on the plush pillow sculpture. This gesture employs the perspective of Slavoj Zizek on the externalization of interior life: “Unconsciousness is outside, not hidden in any unfathomable depths.” (Zizek, The Plague of Fantasie.) In essence the artist succumbs and overcomes the symbolic order of life and death, dreaming and wakefulness. This performance was realized with the support of Goethe Center Santa Cruz & Galeria KIOSKO.

La Mujer

17.35 min
Live Performance
Goethe Center, Santa Cruz
2014

On a road trip through the Chapare region Marcin witnesses a tragic event: A woman violently murdered, laying naked and stretched out along the rocks underneath the bridge Coni, surrounded by a group of police officers and locals. While working through the trauma in reaction to the crime, Marcin uncovers its symbolical power. This victim of a lynching, apparently common in this rural area, becomes a symbol for a society that has lost grace. With La Mujer, Marcin revives the image of the fallen woman inside a live performance. A humongous sculpture of a greenish pale woman body with bloody red spots lays stretched out over the courtyard of the Goethe Center. During the performance Marcin stands on the upper level of the courtyard and climbs onto a 13ft (4m) long slim wooden board in 16ft (5m) height and cites abstractions from Jelinek‘s „Sleeping Beauty.“ The text speaks to the ambiguity of embodiment, transitioning through conscious, subconscious and unconscious states. Marcin embodies this emotional forlornness by placing herself onto a slim jumping board, representing a dream-like state where one is vulnerable to risk, the concrete courtyard below representing wakefulness. The physical fear of falling is evaded through the meditative act of reading the text out loud and through the final unleashing jump, a physical manifestation to defy the fear of death, submit to gravity and its grounding force of life, landing on the plush pillow sculpture. This gesture employs the perspective of Slavoj Zizek on the externalization of interior life: “Unconsciousness is outside, not hidden in any unfathomable depths.” (Zizek, The Plague of Fantasie.) In essence the artist succumbs and overcomes the symbolic order of life and death, dreaming and wakefulness. This performance was realized with the support of Goethe Center Santa Cruz & Galeria KIOSKO.

Zero Gravity

2:11 min
Video- Performance
Tampa, Fl
2013

Zero Gravity plays upon the divide between mind and body. During the Zero Gravity flight experience, the artist quotes from Nietzsche’s famous text God is dead, overwhelmed by the endorphin releasing condition. In an age torn between virtual reality and physical existence, the piece illuminates how the heaviness of the mind can be lifted by a physical environment and vice versa. Contradictionarily, Zero Gravity displays the intellect as source for intuition and the physicality as force of control. The emotionality and gravity of the text finds expression, simultaneously Marcin is hindered through the release of endorphins, which she sees as a metaphor for the omnipresent triumph of The Society of the Spectacle (1967, Debord). Zero Gravity is a work of art that takes the audience to a new level of consciousness of both body and mind. Commissioned by WARP Contemporary Art Platform for Coup de Ville and co-sponsored by Aurora Aerospace.

Nadja by Breton II

24.11 min
Live Performance at Middle Gate Geel '13
Kunstenhuis Yellow Art, Geel
2013

In 'Nadja by Breton' Marcin plays on Breton famous female figure 'Nadja' and his topography of desire concealed behind the story. Whilst balancing on a wooden construction in between two trees, she reads an 'ecriture-automatique' about a walk through the city of New York, explaining feelings of alienation towards a public space that is no longer social but commercial. As she steps closer and closer towards the center of the wooden beam, holding on to a single leaf of a tree, the beam starts to wabble and shake increasingly. Consequently, an enormous tension enfolds within the audience. Suddenly, the beam breaks into two pieces and Marcin lands an a gigantic sculpture on the ground. Marcin's performance raises questions of social communication and accountability to the design and usage of a public, social and personal space as an immanent principle of life.Commissioned by Jan Hoet and Middle Gate Geel‘13.

Reise nach Ägypten

6 hours
Live Performance at Action Manual Vol I & II
Dortmunder Kunstverein, Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten, Castle of Rheda
Dortmund, Marl, Rheda
2012

As the six hour live performance trip ‚Reise nach Ägypten‘ (journey to egypt) unfolded inside a bus, 40 guests were led to the exhibition halls of Dortmunder Kunstverein in Dortmund, the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten in Marl and the Orangerie at the Castle of Rheda. The live performance went back to an event in 2007, in which the artist went alone on a bus trip to the Sinai region, which was bombed a year earlier. The title refers to the children‘s game ‚Journey to Jerusalem‘ and acts as a reminder for a romantic theme that has fallen by the current political situation of the Sinai into disrepute. The journey began in the city of Cairo in the Catskills, led to the Bedouins at the foot of Sinai and from there to a group of young Turks in West Germany, and finally to a castle with a princess and prince. It reflected upon the psychological processes of projection and faith. Text by Melanie Körkemeier Commissioned by Skulpturenmuseum Marl, Werkstatt Bleichhäuschen and Dortmunder Kunstverein.

King Kong Theory

22.45 min
Live performance
Momentum Worldwide, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin
2012

'King Kong Theory' is based on the book 'King Kong Theory' by the French feminist Virginia Despentes. Despentes selects as the protagonist femininity, which moves between the poles of staged reality, perception and self-assertion. It speaks to the diversity and uniqueness and against defined roles and clichés that govern our everyday image and shape our reality. King Kong, so to speak, her protagonist, embodies a natural, perfect original condition - neither man nor animal, male or female, good or bad - that changes only through the act of domestication into a true beast. In 'King Kong Theory' Marcin pushes out this exciting moment of animalistic simplicity and civilized complexity, her skepticism against rigid categories. She acts out her interpretation of 'Ann Darrow', while 'King Kong' is present in form of a distinctive sculpture. The immensely powerful appearing reminiscent of a gorilla evokes in contrast to the petite woman the traditional idea of good and evil, but the brutality of the original and the its traditional constellation are absent. In Despentes sense, subscribed gender roles need to be challenged and eradicated: Behind the perfect facade of tradition, where everything has its natural place, is a hidden standarizing and value-building norm supported by a poor, social structure. In the interaction with the supposedly man-eating beast Marcin reveals our dualistic negative-positive perspective and demonstrated to us their at times dangerous and hurtful absurdity. Text by Veit Rieber, Art Historian, Berlin

Love's Surrogates II

23:48 min
Live Performance
Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York
2011

Standing on the artifact of privacy, a decontextualized dresser, Marcin unfolded a narrative about 'The Girl’s' childhood, presaging the rollercoaster of the Girl's love life, as well as power dynamics inside her family. Each sequence found humorous punctuation as Marcin launched herself repeatedly from a dresser onto a mini trampoline and onto the belly of an enormous sculpture (a blue dog-like animal) lying supine with knobby knees and elbows. Hence, Marcin chose a man from the audience, giving a concrete example for 'The Girl’s' interaction, placing him on a seat and giving him a hug. The awkward mini-romance dissolved when a Tango dancer stepped into the scene, taking her away on a dynamic dance in midst of the audience. Through an existential self-questioning, Marcin depicts the ambivalent world of emotions from its tragic-comical, unpredictable side and challenges the viewer to take position on the "The Girl's" experience.

Nadja by Breton

21.23 min
Live Performance
Fischer Landau Center, New York
2010

In the live performance 'Nadja by Breton' Marcin alludes to the topography of desire embodied in Breton’s story. Whilst balancing on a wooden construction inbetween two tress, she reads an Ecriture-automatique about a walk through the city of New York, explaining feelings of alienation towards a public space that is no longer social but commercial. As she steps closer and closer towards the center of the wooden beam, holding on to a single leaf of a tree, the beam starts to wabble and shake increasingly. Consequently, an enormous tension enfolds within the audience. Suddenly, the beam breaks into two pieces and Marcin lands an a gigantic sculpture that has been installed on the ground, covering only a small part of the center. Hence, a man from the audience starts to scream: “Call 911. Call 911. Why is noone calling 911?” Marcin's performance raises questions of social communication and accountability to the design and usage of a public, social and personal space as an immanent principle of life.

Are you lonesome tonight

3.37 min, HDV
Video/Performance
Police Bar, Kaunas
2009

In 'Are you lonesome tonight' Nadja appears in a public bar in Kaunas, Lithuania, which belongs to the head commissar of the police. She mimics the Elvis performance of 'Jailhouse Rock', wearing a hand-made costume that could be a cross between a German gymnast’s and erotic lingerie. As she tries to interact with the partly inebriated guests, such as some older men playing chess, or a woman who actually joins in the dance and begins taking her clothes off, she turns the bar into a playground for an exhibition. Marcin’s implicitness to maintain a physical, energetic and out of order presence clashes the stagnancy of the expected. Therefore, a field of tension and ambiguity enfold between each character’s right to maintain and define its existence. The two different concepts start to interrelate and battle. In the center stands the absurdity of the question, whether Elvis could be contemporary and, if so, could he be a woman? Marcin manages to caricature the contradictions within a young, provocative, post-feminist attitude and, simultaneously, the stigma of an elder generation’s torpor. At the opening of Kaunas Biennale Marcin performed her “Are you lonesome tonight” video-performance as live karaoke on a stage and invited the audience to sing along. This project was commissioned by TEXTILE’09- Kaunas Biennale.

Fall and Rise of a Fish

9.26 min, HDV
Video/Performance
Kindl Brewery, Berlin
2008

In 'Fall and Rise of a Fish' the fish and its vital water surroundings serve as a metaphor for the dependence of (human) life on its environment. As well, Marcin explores our vulnerability to the whims of superiors and the forces of nature. Often subtle, yet critical problems are the fundamental questions of independent freedom, terrorism and social rites. At the same time 'Fall and Rise of a Fish' looks at how common social paradigms are media dependent and rely on the perspective of the viewer. Thereby contemporary topics like power and belief, the question of individuality, and the paradigm of artificiality versus reality, are brought to awareness. (Susanne Husse, Kuratorin von 'Aquatieramento', Berlin, 2008)

Singing in the rain

4.22 min, HDV
Video/Performance
Park of Public Library, Los Angeles
2009

In the magical morning hour of downtown L.A., a female figure appears in the deserted city center wearing nothing but a nude costume of skin-colored tights, underwear and a handmade-bra with stuffed breasts. As she begins to reenact Gene Kelly’s famous dance of 'Singing in the rain', his male movements find realization in her improvisational act. Lacking the significant rain of the original scene that serves as a catharsis and relief, the nude continuous her tap dance on a water fountain’s steps, and finally jumps into a larger basin. The ongoing movement with the autonomy of a child’s play or a private practice is underlined by the strong presence of melancholy. Hiding the identity of the person, the character’s nudity reduces her to a clownish gender stereotype. Contradictorily, her clumsy and authentic movement reveals an imperfection that shows personality and Gestalt. Marcin’s ambiguous spectacle of 'Singing in the rain' reverses the pretense to an uneasy amusement. (Greta Gesenberg, curator, Berlin)

From Hollywood to Buchenwald

21.49 min
Live Performance
Pawnshop Gallery, Los Angeles
2007

In 'From Hollywood to Buchenwald' the performer tells a story about a horse ride from Buchenwald to Hollywood, meanwhile she is sitting in a white house simultaneously being projected live in the exterior courtyard. As the story gets more and more surreal and dream-woven, all of the sudden the land of plenty is in Buchenwald and the souls of the Jews are asking for their bodies. Food is chasing us. Finally, the performer leaves the house and starts to interact with the gathered crowd. She faces individual people, attempting to get closer to them, and asks repeatedly, 'Are you an actor?' 'Are you a director?' As story telling is based on pretense, illusion and nostalgia, the audience is invited first into a narrative. In the second part of the piece the performer breaks out of the frame, steps beyond the level of politeness and ‘attacks’ the audience. By breaking the rules, the action becomes an actuality and threatens the viewers. In “From Hollywood to Buchenwald”, Marcin points to possible parallels between the entertainment business and Fascism.

Street

6.02 min, HDV
Video/Performance
Public Spaces, Berlin
2007

In 'Street' nine performances were carried out in a guerilla action manner in public spaces in Berlin, while being documented by video and photography. The performances relate to historical events and comment on the obvious structure of consumer society and its battlefield. Using human rights as an authorization, the discrepancy between law and action evolves in the eyes of the observer.

Love Surrogates

28.35 min
Live Performance
Academy of Fine Arts, Münster
2007

In the performance called 'Love's Surrogates' Marcin stands on a cupboard in the foyer of a school and jumps over a trampoline onto a gigantic dog sculpture. Between the jumps, she delivers a speech about 'The Girl's' childhood, revealing family power dynamics and the struggles of 'The Girl's' intimate life to four hundred viewers. Consequently, an atmosphere of tension establishes that challenges the viewer to take a position on 'The Girl's' experiences, and in this way become part of the piece.

Holidays in Kakao

17.33 min
Live Performance
Cuba Kultur e.V., Münster
2006

As the performer is telling a story about her beach holidays in Portugal, she starts to cut her dress and cover herself in a chocolate paste. She crosses the story with thoughts on ageing. 'Why does nobody get children anymore?' Wintertime is now getting closer and the performer asks the audience to sing a Christmas song. Meanwhile a person illustrates the winter landscape with Hollywood snow. Marcin walks through the artificial weather, repeating: 'In the multitude of feelings we enjoy the moment of not alone feeling.'