Mark Lecky Katalog Text Dander

Page 1

Edited by Patrizia Dander and Elena Filipovic con t en t s

– m a rk leck ey – On Pleasure Bent

p. 5


p. 28

Script for Prp4AShw – Mark Leckey

p. 34

The Real Embodiment of Ersatz Things – Elena Filipovic

p. 53

OdooDem – Mark Leckey

p. 66

Script for GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction – Mark Leckey

p. 72

A Desire for Things – Patrizia Dander

p. 86

Script for Concrete Vache – Mark Leckey & Martin McGeown

p. 102

Script for In the Long Tail – Mark Leckey

p. 134

Script for Cinema-in-the-Round – Mark Leckey

p. 142

Mark Leckey, Pleasure Model (After Pietz) – John Cussans

p. 154

Lyrics for March of the Big White Barbarians – Mark Leckey

p. 176

Aspiring to the Condition of Cheap Music Interview with Mark Leckey – Dan Fox

p. 210

Everybody’s Autobiography – Alex Kitnick

p. 239


p. 246


p. 250

Authors’ Biographies

p. 251

List of Works

p. 254


Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln 3

– a desire for t hings – Patrizia Dander

GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction, 2010–11 (still)


When Mark Leckey’s exhibition Septic Tank opened in 2004, he had only been a full-time artist for a few years. Although he had sporadically made works that had been shown in exhibitions since the mid-1990s,1 it was his video Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999, pp. 230–235) – an homage to British dancehall culture since the 1970s, made for the exhibition Crash! at the Institute of Contemporary Arts 2 in London – that marked his breakthrough barely a decade after he had graduated from college. Fulfilling his nostalgic desire to find a visual form for memories from his youth, Fiorucci consists of found video footage from the days and nights of northern soul aficionados, casuals, and ravers.3 Backed by a soundtrack by Leckey that was released as an LP in 2012, the video came to epitomize what the music critic Simon Reynolds has said “may have been the best moments of a number of young British lives in the last three decades of the twentieth century. Their finest hour.” 4 For Leckey, this intensity and total absorption in one kind of music or one style of clothing (hence the title) are the essence of this video: “What the title […] means to me is this investment of energy into something as kitsch and crassly commercial as a fleetingly fashionable pair of jeans – Fiorucci had a moment in the late 1970s – and this belief in the brand, that it somehow symbolizes a ‘way of life,’ becomes something almost sacred. It’s an investment in something as a means to transcendence, or rather, immanence.” 5 Like Fiorucci, his subsequent works are expressions of longings and desires; informed by the cosmos of popular culture, British subculture in particular. Taking himself as his starting point (albeit notably avoiding presenting himself as an authentic artist-subject), in his videos and films, objects, and installations, he explores the affective charge of our relations to our surroundings as the motor for our own actions. In the past fifteen years Leckey has found a way to represent subjectivity as it operates on the cusp between the formulation of personal desires and a wider analysis of culture. More recently, this has expanded to encompass technological developments and their implications for subject-object relationships, thereby adding yet another level to the assessment of his position as a producer within a contemporary society and culture. Septic Tank emerged from this forcefield of personal interests and popular culture. It contained a number of works that took their inspiration from Leckey’s London studio at 7 Windmill Street,6 that is to say, the place where he made his art, a place of private aspirations and apprehensions. In the exhibition a replica of Leckey’s studio walls was constructed, like a stage set, accompanied by images of characters from the British 1970s television dramatization by ITV of Graham Greene’s short story The Destructors (1954). The show’s key figure was the actor Phil Daniels (see pp. 159–160), one of the main characters in The Destructors, and who would later play the lead role in Quadrophenia (1979), the legendary movie about the rivalry of mods and rockers in 1960s England. This role made Daniels an icon of British youth culture. In Greene’s story a gang of boys – initially led by Daniels as Blackie in the television dramatization – destroy a house in their neighborhood. In Septic Tank Leckey provided a stage for the violent devastation of someone else’s property (a year later, in 2005, he revisited this idea in his video Shades of Destructors [pp. 162–163], with its symbolic dismantling of his own studio). This framework is significant to Leckey’s own practice in the sense that he mostly works with found footage, which is to say he appropriates – and thereby potentially destroys – existing material. By locating the action in his studio he implicitly raises the question of the relationship of his own artistic production to other products of British (youth) culture, from Graham Greene to Quadrophenia. One item in the exhibition notably had no (sub)cultural reference of that kind, and it marks a starting point for Leckey’s engagement with medium-reflexivity and therefore technological matters. Although the 16 mm film Made in ’Eaven (2004, pp. 168–171) is also set in Leckey’s studio, it does not address the literary source by Greene (or rather its television dramatization), but instead an artistic reference, namely Jeff Koons’s stainless steel sculpture Rabbit (1986).7 The film opens with a quick pan shot showing the situation: in the middle of Leckey’s empty studio the gleaming Rabbit is seen in all its highly polished perfection, placed on a plinth like an exhibit in a gallery. 73

In this room, which clearly bears signs of the passage of time, the sculpture seems unreal, even improbable. And the movement of the camera seems equally “disbelieving”: it revolves around the sculpture in a loop, initially approaching it in a jerky manner, then zooming in and out extremely slowly, scrutinizing the object as it circles around it and returns to its starting point. With its “first-person” perspective it is not by chance that the camera’s movement recalls the visual techniques of horror movies, for Leckey’s film can also be seen as a depiction of the uncanny. The surface of Rabbit reflects and distorts Leckey’s studio in such a way that the reflections of the decorative fireplace at one end of the room, and the dark red alcoves on either side of it, look like a mouth and two eyes on the rabbit’s head and body. These “faces” give the object, with its gleaming projection surface, an animated yet ghostly appearance, and this impression only increases as time passes. Instead of becoming visible in this reflective surface – in the way that mirrors have traditionally been used to expand the realm of the viewer and to introduce “external” figures 8 – the camera and the artist (and hence the human eye) are entirely absent in Made in ’Eaven. In Leckey’s hands, Rabbit becomes a specter of sorts, a simulacrum 9 of itself, and dissolves into its own surroundings, Leckey’s studio. This interplay of illusion and ghostliness is closely connected with the characteristics of the medium used for Made in ’Eaven and not least underlined by the transfer of a digitally constructed animation to 16 mm film. The camera’s absence from the field of vision in Leckey’s film points at its virtual making. Moreover it exposes the film footage’s supposed indexicality as mere illusion. Rabbit thus becomes an empty (emptied) projection surface, in a way that relates to Koons’s own approach, as he described it in reference to his Statuary series, which includes Rabbit: “The basic story line is about art leaving the realm of the artist, when the artist loses control of the work. It’s defined basically by two ends. One would be Louis XIV – that if you put art in the hands of an aristocracy or monarch, art will become reflective of ego and decorative – and on the other end of the scale would be Bob Hope – that if you give art to the masses, art will become reflective of mass ego and also decorative.” 10 Koons’s choice of material for Rabbit allows him to literally apply his definition of his work as a mirror of society to the situation of the viewer. Viewers cannot avoid confronting themselves in the reflective surface 11 and become part of the work, albeit not as a creative partners but as an interchangeable props. At the same time the work has a distancing effect in the sense that it also reflects the viewers’ surroundings, making them aware of the viewing situation. Leckey creates pendulum movements of this kind in his film – both through the absence of a camera, which requires the viewer to consider the medium as an entity of itself; and through the zooming in and out in the film. Whereas Rabbit is clearly at the center of the film in the beginning, in the closeups Leckey’s studio pushes into the foreground and merges so completely into Koons’s sculpture that it becomes the only visible pictorial element. It is as though Leckey (via his studio) takes possession of Rabbit. “I’m a fetishist, I fetishize things, and I’m drawn to these things and I obsess about these things and I need to possess them in some way, because I feel like they are possessing me. I want some kind of reciprocation.” 12 This aspiration to oneness is reminiscent of a definition of desire by the Italian theorist Franco Bifo Berardi: “Desire is the creation of a singular universe, the projection of a world of things, people, voices that surround the sensible-sensitive organism as attractors. Pleasure (jouissance) is the collapse of borders between the singular organism and the surrounding world; it is the dissolution of the cultural cuticle separating my body from the body of the other and from the body of the universe.” 13 Leckey realizes the dissolution of borders in Made in ’Eaven paradigmatically, by completely absorbing the Koons sculpture – thereby marking a potential for action that Rabbit otherwise denies the viewer. As the camera zooms out, however, the studio recedes into the background again and is reduced to no more than the sculpture’s surroundings. The proximitydistance-control that Leckey is demonstrating here can be read as an indication of the “essential distance,” 14 that is to say the fetish character of Koons’s Rabbit; a fetish that 74

Leckey does not merely replicate but materializes by embedding in his own sphere of operation – in the privacy of his studio, where he lived and worked at that time.15 And in so doing he replaces a unilateral “possessive” relationship with a new reciprocity and puts what is desired on a par with the one who desires.16 For Leckey, Rabbit is “the ultimate capitalist object … in its absolute flawless perfection, it’s like a thought made real.” 17 In fact this reveals his fascination with the rampant commodification of Koons’s work as a symptom of the booming art market in the 1980s, which was also the time when Leckey started to study art. And it is in this respect that Leckey’s work differs from that of other artists who refer to other artistic positions. In view of his interest in the transitions between artistic and pop-culture production, Koons’s Rabbit is relevant to Leckey’s work in the sense that it has long since ceased to be just a work of art and has become a popular cultural artifact. It is in this guise that Rabbit features in Leckey’s work, and in that sense art, as an observed phenomenon – like music, popular culture, cinema, and so on – in effect nourishes Leckey’s work. Koons has always questioned the boundaries that separate popular culture and “high” culture – particularly in Rabbit and in the rest of his Statuary series – and in so doing he has deliberately confronted a view of art that is based on the paradigm of critique.18 Leckey also takes issues with implicit criticality of art and the expectation that artists should primarily adopt a critical position, which has “always felt to [him] like trying to overcome your real responses towards those things, or rather an attempt to overcome your own false consciousness”– a “thankless task of applying oneself to theory.” 19 Even if Leckey is not out to do away with critique as such, in his case it is an embodied relation, not an externalized relation. Accordingly he takes a different approach to formulating object-relationships; instead of following a critical, analytical path, his method involves an affective exploration of object-related desires, as a possible way of responding to the world and, ideally, of better understanding it.20 This form of engagement always involves an element of transposition for Leckey, not only regarding his own person, which he replaced with his studio space in early works, but also on a material level: “I feel like my own perception has been physiologically altered. I can only understand objects once I have them as an image on screen. […] To me, digital objects are as good and true a sensation as if there was a real object there.” 21 It is only when he has a picture of an object that he can work with it: “So, when I get the picture, then I can really get into it. And it’s only when I’ve got it as an image, then I can connect with it. I can consume it, absorb it, have it.” 22 In Leckey’s work the image thus serves as a memory bank, a transposer, and a medium. However, his preoccupation with and use of (mainly found) images does not conform to the representation-critique of Appropriation Art. His use of images is more immediate; it owes less to artistic discourse than it does to experimental film and music videos as image-machines fed by popular culture.23 Nevertheless, there is a genuinely media-reflexive basis to his work – a level of reflection that highlights the medium and technology as themes in his œuvre. Whereas Leckey’s work hitherto has drawn on subjects that particularly matter to him in music, television, and cinema, issues relating to technological developments are therefore now increasingly coming to the fore. For the past decade, he has engaged intensively with structural changes in the media and the way that these affect our life and perceptions. In his lecture performance Cinema-in-the-Round (2006–08, pp. 134–140), for instance, he discusses the impact of (moving) images and their capacity to transcend their own pictoriality, and in In the Long Tail (2008–09, pp. 102–113) 24 he reflects on cultural changes wrought by the Internet.25 Every significant technological development poses the question as to how it will affect the relationship of subject and object. And it is not unusual, in those situations, for archaic fears (mingled with magical superstitions) to surface regarding the potential domination of human beings by technology.26 In recent years Leckey has engaged intensively with this subject, in works such as GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction 75

(2010, pp. 62–63), as well as in the exhibition The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things (2013, pp. 19–27), which he was invited to curate by Hayward Touring and in which he drew together his research into animist notions stimulated by the integration of ever more intelligent technology into our daily lives. In 2006, in his extended essay Che cos’è un dispositivo? (“What is a Dispositif?”),27 Giorgio Agamben identified changes in our daily interactions and self-understanding that have arisen due to the impact of new technologies. With explicit reference to Michel Foucault he uses the term “dispositif” to refer to all the interfaces that determine human behavior.28 And he includes in this a wide range of items involved in various modes of interaction, from a pen to a cigarette, from a computer to a cell phone. Whereas previously “the hand to hand struggle of a substance and a dispositif” 29 had led to various forms of subjectivation, Agamben takes the view that there is a (problematic) shift caused by the new technological dispositifs, which, in his opinion, are first and foremost leading to processes of desubjectivation.30 What may sound relatively abstract can perhaps be illustrated by a practical example. Whereas the dispositif “pen” functions as a promoter of individuality, a smartphone forces the user to adapt to ready-formatted and schematized procedures, even to the extent of modifying his or her language and/or pronunciation to use speech recognition programs such as Siri. Leckey regards the widely accepted notion of the distancing and desubjectivizing impact of devices of this kind, as also iterated by Agamben, as questionable at best: “We’re surrounded by technology now, we live in an ambient environment, technology is creating this field, this visual and audio field […] We’re no longer about making objects, we have to see objects in term of some other kind of relationship to ourselves, more as something that we share the world with.” 31 Accordingly, he has suggested a different approach. “What I want to do with the work that I make is to fully embrace [technology] […] to allow this other nature of technology to become my nature. I want to be a cyborg. I want a total synthesis between me as an organic living thing and stuff that isn’t.” 32 This form of “total synthesis” – which directly relates to Berardi’s definition of desire as the creation of a singular universe – is also the basis of his GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction. The work has been shown in various configurations since 2010 – as the GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction performance (see pp. 68–70), as an installation (pp. 62–63), and as a video work in its own right (see p. 72).33 The setting for all three versions is a space-filling green screen, of the kind that is used in film studios for chroma keying to retrospectively insert motifs into a scene. In the center of the screen is a monolithic-looking Samsung refrigerator (model no. RFG293HA), as much a household item as a sculptural object. However, this is not a passive thing; it is an “intelligent” item that can communicate with the viewer/user. It is a highly technological control center for human survival, which could be said to reflect gradual changes in our daily lives with particular clarity. In Leckey’s work the refrigerator directly addresses the viewer. The (digitally manipulated) text spoken in the video – a composite of operating instructions in the first person; excerpts from Popol Vuh, the sacred writings of the Mayan people; and from Calvin Tomkins’s study of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass (1915–23) – creates the impression that one is party to the refrigerator’s mind. Leckey takes the notion of an “intelligent” device literally and slips into its supposed universe; on the refrigerator’s behalf he talks of its relationship to the things around it, of its life-sustaining circulation. Images flash into view of comparable items from the Samsung “brand universe,” different refrigerators, that is to say, objects from the same “product family,” and a wide range of similar-looking objects, such as black PC towers, loudspeakers, trash bins, items of furniture, and lifestyle products: “Here, here, here we exist. We exist in streets and houses, in cars and fields. As ever-present as sunshine. Each to each, in each order, in each group. Address each one. They ask and they answer.” 34 In Leckey’s hands the “Internet of things” 35 has become a refrigerator with cosmological connections to the world, the universe, the sun, and the moon. 76

This highly idiosyncratic – and entertaining – scenario could be confused with an excessive fascination with technology and sci-fi visions of the future, not least because of the monolithic appearance of the black refrigerator that recalls Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey (U.K./U.S., 1968). However, his point here is neither naïve nor apocalyptic. On the contrary, this work provides a way of reflecting on key changes in our subject-construction by means of the materials that implicate or promote those changes. The media theorist Erich Hörl has studied these changes in recent years: These object cultures, with which we are intimately coupled, are truly technological, in an eminent sense of the term, and they ultimately unhinge the sovereignty and authority of the transcendental subject. The latter was a writing and reading, an alphabetized, a grammatized subject in the strictest sense, and later a cinematographic subject, but in each case it was a subject that integrated and embodied the media-technological conditions underlying its production of experience and meaning: thus it directly adopted its basal media-technological couplings in its schematics, and this is precisely how it incorporated its mediatechnological conditions directly in a subjective synthesis.36 Whereas this simple form of the subordination of objects to the needs of the individual subject (as Agamben still postulates), and whereas the presumption of hierarchical relations between subject and object no longer applies, in Hörl’s view this does not signal the end of subjectivity, but rather a fundamental restructuring of the conditions within which it forms.37 Hörl sees the progressive cybernetization of our environment in: […] the gradual transition from “closed object” to “open object,” and thus the advent of a networked structure, [which] involves the embedding of these actors in the digital, information- and CPU-intensive environment of new media and in automatic environmental technologies, which collectively represent the new dispositif of transformatory technologies. This ultimately transgresses the basic categorial dispositions and forms of intuition that have been controlled by the meaning-giving and meaning-carrying intentional subject, which was formerly the central actor and key protagonist of the sense culture, and it replaces this subject with a new non-intentional, distributed, technological subjectivity that is informed by machinic processes and speeds.38 When Leckey explains that he wants to enter the realm of the “other” – the devices, things, and pictures that are at the heart of his works – and to arrive at a process of exchange or of reciprocity, he is investigating exactly that form of subjectivity Hörl describes. Leckey has already demonstrated this process in Made in ’Eaven. The fact that he does not see himself as a “central actor” who is controlling things also becomes clear in his GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction, in which he desires “to be as close to the fridge as I could get, to be fridge-like, to step inside an image and share space with the fridge.” 39 The performance consists of the same setting of refrigerator and green screen, which Leckey occupies for its entire duration. This is filmed and combined live with a prepared video stream. He thus appears in a composite image, which the audience can see on monitors placed around the set, as part of the refrigerator’s pictorial world. Even in the sequences where Leckey cannot be seen, he is still in the picture – his clothing in the same color as the green background only makes him invisible to the camera. The desire to be at one with the refrigerator goes so far that, during the performance, he inhales from a bottle of “coolant gas” (see p. 71), the same substance that gives “life” to the refrigerator. This gas, also used for sniffing in the United States, transports Leckey into a different mental state – presumably closer to that of the refrigerator. By these means he breaks down the barriers between himself and the refrigerator; on the level of the picture he removes them altogether – effectively linking invisibility and presence, as he does in Made in ’Eaven by using his studio as a placeholder for himself. Leckey regards this form of transposition, of induced contact, as the only possible way of entering into a valid relationship with the object.40 77

By inscribing himself into or merging with things that he desires, Leckey becomes his own topic of investigation and turns an external perspective on himself. As the philosopher Brian Massumi has put it in his writings, such an externalization allows the renegotiation of subject-object relationships: “The objectness of the object is attenuated as the subject, seeing itself as others see it, comes to occupy the object’s place as well as its own. Simultaneously occupying its place and the object’s, the subject departs from itself.” 41 Leckey scrutinizes himself as the sub-ject,42 as one who is at the mercy of things, and thus reveals the influences that affect him – as an artist, as a musician and music lover, as a technology user. He treats himself as an entity that is permeated by various influences, but also as a foil through which he can observe those same influences. In that sense his works, which have arisen from a subjective point of view, transcend their purely personal focus and open out to include wider (technological and cultural) conditions. They are, in the best sense, crystallizations of their own time. It is possible to extrapolate a fundamentally expansive view of the subject from Leckey’s works, which presumes gradual shifts between subject and object rather than distinct, clearly separate realms. This is in keeping with Massumi’s views on affect-based, dynamic subject-object relations: “On the list of distinctions it becomes difficult to sustain in any categorical way are those between artifact and thing, body and object – and even thought and matter. Not only do these relay in reciprocal becomings; together they ally in process.” 43 Affect and affecting, absorbing and exercising influence are, in his view mutually transformative.44 Leckey’s goal in his works is this transformative experience, that he describes in terms of the total synthesis between himself and the things around him: “If I surrender to it, I think it can take me places … it seems infinitely expansive to me.” 45 And one of his works’ major achievements is that they allow the viewer to share the immediacy of this realm of experience.




4 5 6









These include works such as The Model (1994), which is now rarely shown and that Mark Leckey has described as a variant on Situationist psychogeography in the streets of San Francisco (with himself taking the lead in grotesque drag), and Are You Waiting (1996), a short loop of a man dancing frenetically that anticipates (both thematically and technically) Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), Leckey’s most widely known video today. The fact that Leckey’s first participation in an institutional exhibition was at the ICA, the cradle of the Independent Group and hence of British Pop Art in general, was clearly no more than a coincidence. It was, however, nevertheless notable, in that the work of the Independent Group, whose members had a specific interest cultural-anthropological issues, has provided a backdrop to Leckey’s own practice in certain respects. See: Alex Kitnick, “Everybody’s Autobiography,” in this publication, pp. 210 –217. On the ritualistic nature and resilience of subcultures, Simon Reynolds, “They Burn So Bright Whilst You Can Only Wonder Why: Watching Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore,” in: Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist (eds.), Mark Leckey: SEE, WE ASSEMBLE, exhib. cat. Serpentine Gallery, Koenig Books, London, 2011, pp. 8 –9, p. 8. Reynolds refers here to the selection of texts published by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson in 1975, namely Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain, 2nd ed., Routledge, London, 2006. Reynolds, ibid., p. 9. Mark Leckey, email to the author, 07/14/2014. On the central importance of Leckey’s studio to his work, see: Kirsty Bell, “Mark Leckey. Fitzrovia, London, England,” in: The Artist’s House. From Workplace to Artwork, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2013, pp. 144–55. Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1986), from the series Statuary, polished stainless steel, 104.1 × 48.3 × 30.5 cm. Well-known examples of this are seen in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434), Parmigiano’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1524), which has structural similarities to Leckey’s work, and Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656). If Koons’s Rabbit can be classified as a simulacrum (the figure is not an effigy of an actual, “original” subject; it is a generic, selfreproducing form) Leckey’s digital animation adds another level and turns the work of art, Rabbit – the simulacrum – against itself. See: Jeff Koons, in: Klaus Ottmann, “Jeff Koons. Interview,” in: Journal of Contemporary Art, October 1986, available online at: html, accessed 03/27/2014. Dorothea von Hantelmann, How to Do Things with Art. The Meaning of Art’s Performativity, JRP|Ringier and les presses du réel, Zurich and Dijon 2010, p. 189. Mark Leckey, quoted from the edited transcript of his talk at The Bluecoat, Liverpool, on April 10, 2013, available online at: http://www.thedoublenegative., accessed 04/04/2014. Franco Bifo Berardi, Ironic Ethics / Ironische Ethik, in: 100 Notes—100 Thoughts / 100 Notizen—100 Gedanken, no. 027, exhib. cat.

dOCUMENTA (13), Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2011, Kindle edition, location 135. 14 “The essentially distant object is the unapproachable one. Unapproachability is indeed a major quality of the cult image. True to its nature, it remains ‘distant, however close it may be.’ The closeness which one may gain from its subject matter does not impair the distance which it retains in its appearance.” Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” note 7, in: Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, Fontana, London, 1973, pp. 236 –237. 15 During his talk at the ICA on January 9, 2013, Leckey mentioned his fascination with Rabbit, as a sculpture that looked as though it had been made without “human agency” – in distinct contrast to the setting of his studio where he lived and worked. I am grateful to Steven Cairns at the ICA for allowing me access to the recording of that lecture. 16 The title of Leckey’s film makes it abundantly clear that this work is about desire: It refers to another series by Koons from the early 1990s, namely Made in Heaven, in which Koons himself appeared with the porn star Illona Staller a.k.a. Cicciolina (soon to become his wife) in explicitly sexual poses. 17 Leckey, Bluecoat talk, op. cit. 18 See: Catherine Wood, “Capitalist Realness,” in: Jack Bankowsky, Alison M. Gingeras, and Catherine Wood, Pop Life. Art in a Material World, exhib. cat. Tate Modern, London, Tate Publishing, London 2009, p. 50. 19 Mark Leckey, in: Lauren Cornell, “TechnoAnimism,” in: Mousse, 37, 2013, available online at: mm?id=941, accessed 07/03/2014. 20 Mark Leckey, in: “Interview with Mark Leckey by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist,” in: Mark Leckey: SEE, WE ASSEMBLE, op. cit., pp. 35f. 21 Mark Leckey in: Kari Rittenbach, “Chrome & Flesh: An Interview with Mark Leckey,” Rhizome, December 17, 2012, available online at: /dec/17/ mark-leckey/, accessed 04/21/2014. 22 Mark Leckey, Three Minute Wonders – Turner Prize (2008), available online at: JlEnyteNCc, accessed 04/17/2014. 23 When Leckey moved to the United States in 1993, his main interest was already in experimental found-footage films and video (particularly in music videos, which combined his interest in the moving image and in music in a basically ordinary medium used in popular culture). These interests are still fundamental to his work. 24 See: Cinema-in-the-Round script, in this publication, pp. 134–140, In the Long Tail script, in this publication, pp. 102 –113. Leckey conceived his first lecture performance under the title Cinema-in-the-Round in 2006. It was performed under the same title in 2007, 2008 and 2010 (see Biography). The corresponding video, a composite documentation of the different performances of Cinema-in-the-Round, carries the title Cinema in the Round and is dated 2006 –08. For the sake of coherence, the script and the lecture performance are also dated 2006 –08 in this publication. 25 Particularly in these lecture performances, there are parallels to the technology-affinity of






31 32 33

34 35


37 38 39 40 41


43 44 45

the cultural and anthropological research of the Independent Group in London. See also: Melissa Gronlund, “Return of the Gothic: Digital Anxiety in the Domestic Sphere,” in: e-flux journal, 51, 01/2014, available online at: journal/return-of-the-gothic-digital-anxietyin-the-domestic-sphere, accessed 04/26/2014. Giorgio Agamben, Che cos’è un dispositivo?, Edizioni nottetempo, Rome, 2006. The following quotes are taken from the English translation of Agamben’s lecture “What Is a Dispositif?,” given at the European Graduate School. Available online at: http://www.egs. edu/faculty/giorgio-agamben/articles/what-isa-dispositif/part-1/, accessed 05 /26/2014. Agamben: “I will call depository, dispositif literally everything that has in some way the capacity of capturing, determining, orienting, intercepting, shaping, guiding, securing, or controlling the behavior, gestures, opinion, discourses of living beings or substances.” Available online at: faculty/giorgio-agamben/articles/what-is-adispositif/part-3/, accessed 05 /26/2014. Agamben, available online at: http://www.egs. edu/faculty/giorgio-agamben/articles/what-isa-dispositif/part-4/, accessed 05 /26/2014. The full lecture by Agamben is available in English on YouTube at com/results?search_query=Giorgio+Agam ben.+What+is+a+Dispositive%3F, accessed 05 /26/2014. Leckey, in: Mark Leckey: SEE, WE ASSEMBLE, op. cit., p. 37. Leckey, Bluecoat talk, op. cit. Whereas the video is also shown on its own, the performance and the installation are only ever presented in conjunction with the video. See: GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction script, in this publication, p. 66. See: Fraunhofer Institut für Materialfluss und Logistik, “Das Internet der Dinge,” available online at: wasistdasinternetderdinge.html, accessed 05 /06/2014. Erich Hörl, “Die technologische Bedingung. Zur Einführung,” in: Erich Hörl (ed.), Die technologische Bedingung. Beiträge zur Beschreibung der technischen Welt, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, pp. 7–53, p. 12. I am grateful to Tim Roerig for alerting me to Erich Hörl’s writing. Ibid., p. 9. Ibid., pp. 14–15. Mark Leckey, telephone conversation with the author, 04/02 /2014. Ibid. Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. Movement, Affect, Sensation, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2002, p. 50. I am grateful to Kerstin Stakemeier for alerting me to Massumi’s book and for her comments on the text. See the etymology of the word “subject”: Middle English (in the sense of “(person) owing obedience”): from Old French suget; from Latin subjectus “brought under,” past participle of subicere, from sub-“under” + jacere “throw,” in: Oxford Dictionary of English, Angus Stevenson et al. (eds.), Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 1998, p. 1773. Massumi, op. cit., p. 11. Ibid., p. 15. Leckey, Bluecoat talk, op. cit.



Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels September 26, 2014 – January 11, 2015

Mark Leckey Haus der Kunst, Munich January 30 – May 31, 2015

Mark Leckey. MADRESCENZA – Seasonal School Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – Madre Napoli Winter 2014–15

UniAddDumThs Kunsthalle Basel March 5 – May 31, 2015

Curator: Elena Filipovic Assistant Curator: Charlotte Friling

Curator: Patrizia Dander

MADRESCENZA Project Curator: Andrea Viliani

Curator: Elena Filipovic

Stiftung Haus der Kunst München, gemeinnützige Betriebsgesellschaft mbH Director: Okwui Enwezor Team: Tina Anjou, Stephan N. Barthelmess, Sabine Brantl, Daniela Burkart, Sylvia Clasen, Arnulf von Dall’Armi, Patrizia Dander, Martina Fischer, Elena Heitsch, Tina Köhler, Anton Köttl, Isabella Kredler, Teresa Lengl, Anne Leopold, Julienne Lorz, Karin Mahr, Marco Graf von Matuschka, Miro Palavra, Glenn Rossiter, Andrea Saul, Cassandre Schmid, Anna Schüller, Sonja Teine, Ulrich Wilmes

Fondazione Donnaregina per le Arti Contemporanee: Pierpaolo Forte, President; Laura Cherubini, Vice President; Antonio Blandini, Counselor

Kunsthalle Basel Director: Elena Filipovic Team: Beatrice Hatebur, General Management; Renate Wagner, Head of Exhibitions; Ruth Kissling, Assistant Curator; Klaus Haenisch, Chief Exhibition Technician; Elena Gerosa, Herbert Rehbein, and Uwe Walther, Exhibition Technicians; Sanja Lukanovic, Head of Educational Services; Leonie Brenner, Educational Services; Jan Kudrnovsky, Administration; Edith Kämmerle, Accountant; Heidrun Ziems, Library; Sören Schmeling and Mara Berger, Research Assistants; Rinny Biberstein, Head of Reception; Lea Hummel, Sima Djabar Zadegan, and Renée Steffen, Reception; Sibylle Reichenbach, Intern

WIELS Director: Dirk Snauwaert Team: Devrim Bayar, Wim Clauwaert, Benoît De Wael, Michael Dewit, Caroline Dumalin, Nadia Essouayah, Elena Filipovic, Charlotte Friling, Eva Gorsse, Fredji Hayebin, Ari Hiroshige, Kwinten Lavigne, Martine de Limburg Stirum, Micha Pycke, Sophie Rocca, Michèle Rollé, Cédrik Toselli, Frédérique Versaen Board and General Assembly members: Inge C. de Bruin-Heijn, Herman J. Daled, Bart De Baere, Chris Dercon, Pierre Iserbyt, Ann Veronica Janssens, Sophie Le Clercq, Bruno van Lierde, Michel Moortgat, Frédéric Rouvez, Luc Tuymans, Richard Venlet, Sylvie Winckler WIELS Contemporary Art Centre Av. Van Volxemlaan 354 b–1190 Brussels tel +32 (0) 2 340 00 53

Haus der Kunst Prinzregentenstr. 1 d–80538 Munich tel +49 (0)89 21127 113

We would like to thank our shareholders for their annual support of the program: Freistaat Bayern, Gesellschaft der Freunde Haus der Kunst e.V. Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation

We would like to thank our supporters: Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/ Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie Brussel-Bruxelles, Loterie Nationale/Nationale Loterij, Duvel Moortgat, Eckmann Art & Insurance, Levis, Wilgelover, WIELS Club, WIELS Business Club

Scientific Committee of Fondazione Donnaregina per le Arti Contemporanee: Andrea Bellini, Johanna Burton, Bice Curiger, Gianfranco Maraniello, Chus Martínez Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – Madre Napoli: Andrea Viliani, Director; Gianni Limone, Financial Director; Silvia Salvati, Exhibition Manager, with Juliana Fisichella; Vincenzo Trione, Head of Department; Olga Scotto di Vettimo, Researcher; Alessandra Troncone, Researcher; Alessandro Rabottini, Curator at Large; Eugenio Viola, Curator at Large Scabec SpA (Organization and Management): Maurizio Di Stefano, President; Franco Tumino, CEO; Rosanna Cappelli, Counselor; Massimo Lo Cicero, Counselor; Ciro Russo, Counselor; Francesca Maciocia, Director; Maurizio D’Amico, Luigi Panaro, General Coordination; Carlotta Branzanti, Anna Civale, Tiziana Rocco with Francesca Buonomo, Annalisa Virgili (Exhibition Coordination by Electa); Monica Brognoli, Anna Salvioli with Luisa Maradei, Valeria Vacca, web-social network (Communication and Press Office by Electa); Valérie Béliard, Silvia Cassani (Publications by Electa); Bruno D’Antonio, Valeria Pitterà with Marina Vinto, Daniela Bruscino (Museum and Educational Services by Coopculture); Giuseppe Codispoti with Laura Aversa, Annamaria Caffarelli (Marketing by Coopculture); Civin Vigilanza SRL, Pacifico Costruzioni SpA, Gamba Service SpA (Security, Maintenance, Cleaning)

Kunsthalle Basel Steinenberg 7 ch–4051 Basel tel +41 (0)61 206 99 00

UniAddDumThs is organized with the collaboration of WIELS, Brussels Kunsthalle Basel is generously supported by the Canton of Basel-Stadt

Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – Madre Napoli Via Settembrini 79 i–80139 Naples tel +39 081 19313016



Mark Leckey – On Pleasure Bent is published to coincide with the exhibitions: Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials September 26, 2014 – January 11, 2015 WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels Mark Leckey January 30 – May 31, 2015 Haus der Kunst, Munich It is also published on the occasion of the MADRESCENZA – Seasonal School seminar, Mark Leckey, winter 2014–15, co-organized by Fondazione Donnaregina per le Arti Contemporanee / Madre – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples With additional support by Kunsthalle Basel in connection with their presentation of UniAddDumThs, March 5 – May 31, 2015

Editors: Patrizia Dander and Elena Filipovic Publication coordinator: Patrizia Dander, assisted by Elisabeth Stoiber Copy editor: Kimberly Bradley Proofreader: Sylee Gore Translator: Fiona Elliott (Patrizia Dander essay) Graphic design: Sara De Bondt studio Printing and binding: Die Keure, Brugge Cover: Mark Leckey, On Pleasure Bent Cover, 2014 Published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln Ehrenstr. 4, 50672 Köln Distribution: Germany & Europe Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln tel +49 (0)221 20 59 6 53 fa x +49 (0)221 20 59 6 60 uk & Eire Cornerhouse Publications 70 Oxford Street gb-Manchester m1 5nh tel +44 (0)161 200 15 03 fa x +44 (0)161 200 15 04 usa & Canada d.a.p., Distributed Art Publishers 55 Sixth Avenue/ 2nd Floor usa-New York, ny 10013 tel +1 (0)212 627 1999 fa x +1 (0)212 627 9484 ISBN 978-3-86335-618-7


Mark Leckey, the editors, and the publishing institutions would like to thank the following people: Gavin Brown and Jamie Kenyon from Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; Daniel Buchholz, Christopher Müller, and Filippo Weck from Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne; Freddie Checketts, Martin McGeown, and Andrew Wheatley from Cabinet Gallery, London, and Sara De Bondt. Taylor Absher / New York University Advanced Media Studio (AMS), Danai Anesiadou, Ara Arslanian, Charles Asprey, Ronald Asprey, Ed Atkins, Tim Bacon, Amanda Baggs, Maria Barnas, Jon Barraclough, Tamara Beheydt, Akiko Bernhöft, Mark Blower, Brian Bress, Jérôme Blanchevoye / JCDecaux Street Furniture Belgium S.A., Mark Blower, Christian and Karen Boros, Louise Bourgeois, Edwin Burdis, Steven Cairns / Institute of Contemporary Arts, Lizzie Carey-Thomas / Tate Britain, Maurizio Cattelan, Angela Choon / David Zwirner, Peter Coffin, Alastair Cookson, Chris Cunningham / Aphex Twin, John Cussans, Anja NathanDorn, Claudine Duvivier, Emilie Forget / Le Consortium, Dan Fox, Daniele Frazier, Clare Gannaway / Manchester Art Gallery, Herman Geubels / DDP Brussels, Terry Gilliam, Charles Gohy, Wolfgang Günzel, Jean-Louis de Halleux / s.a. D’Ieteren, Richard Hamilton, Lee Healey, Florian Hecker, Sven Hermans / Materialise, Nicola Hicks, Susan Hiller, Antonia Hirsch, Erich Hörl, Alex Hubbard, Kathrin Jentjens, Andy Keate, Dr. Kristin Kennedy / Victoria and Albert Museum, Alex Kitnick, Jon Lash / Digital Atelier, Elad Lassry, Andrea MaciasYanez, Herman Makkink, Pietro Torrigiani Malaspina and Maddalena Fossombroni / Castello di Fosdinovo, Roger Malbert / Hayward Touring, Maurice Marciano, Emily Martinez, Xavier Mary, Sander Mulder, James Mullord, David Musgrave, Suzanne Pagé and Ludovic Delalande / Fondation Louis Vuitton, Chelsea Pettitt / Hayward Touring, Alessandro Raho, Stéphanie Rollin / The Plug, Walter Sache, Alexander Schröder, Jim Shaw, Raf Simons, Sanne Sinnige, Kerstin Stakemeier, Paolo Stolpmann / Boros Collection, Stephanie Schwarze, Siegfried Smeets, Mike Sperlinger, Abi Spinks / Nottingham Contemporary, Ali Subotnick / Hammer Museum, Miroslav Tichý, Gigiotto Del Vecchio, Tom Wallman, Robert Wilson, Jane Won / De La Warr Pavilion, and Catherine Wood / Tate Modern.

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne; and Cabinet Gallery, London: pp. 14–15 Photograph by Brian Forrest, courtesy of Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; pp. 16–17, 84–85, 164–165, 191, 206 Courtesy of the artist and Cabinet Gallery, London; pp. 19, 24–25 Photographs by Andy Keate, courtesy of Nottingham Contemporary and Hayward Touring, London; pp. 20–21 Photograph by Jon Barraclough 2013, courtesy of The Bluecoat, Liverpool, and Hayward Touring, London; pp. 22–23, 26–27 Photographs by Nigel Green, courtesy of De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Hayward Touring, London; pp. 30–31 Photograph by Christiano Corte; p. 34 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; p. 47 Photograph by Alessandro Raho; p. 49 Stills from a documentation by Nick Relph; pp. 50–51, 58, 68–69, 103–104, 108, 110–111, 225 Photographs by Mark Blower; pp. 54–55 Photograph by Alan Seabright, courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery; pp. 56–57 Photograph by Kim Williams, courtesy of Walter Philipps Gallery at the Banff Centre; pp. 62–63, 70–71, 159, 209 Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; pp. 82–83, 87–88, 91 Photographs by Andy Keate; pp. 101–102, 106, 114 Photographs by Amy C. Elliott; pp. 118–119, 174–175, 185, 192–195, 208 Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne; p. 123 Photographs by Simon Vogel, courtesy of Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; pp. 124– 125, 182 photographer unknown, courtesy of the artist; p. 147 Photograph by Wolfgang Günzel; pp. 148, 190 Photographs by André Morin, courtesy of Le Consortium, Dijon; pp. 188–189 Photographs by Sophie Rickett; p. 210 Courtesy of the artist; pp. 220 top left, 222–223 Photographs by Ben Brett.

We would also like to thank the following companies and institutions: Ashmolean Picture Gallery, AUDI, Formlabs, JCDecaux Street Furniture Belgium S. A., Marc O’Polo, Nissan Design Europe, RSLSteeper, and Victoria and Albert Museum. Additional thanks go to: The Henry Moore Foundation.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

© 2014 Madre; Stiftung Haus der Kunst München, gemeinnützige Betriebsgesellschaft mbH; WIELS; the artist, the authors, the photographers, and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln We thank all copyright owners for their kind permission to reproduce their material. Should, despite our intensive research, any person entitled to rights have been overlooked, legitimate claims shall be compensated within the usual provisions.