Left and Right Hemispheres

In preparation for her exhibition Fixed Sky Situation at König Galerie in January 2019, Helen Marten invited photographer Lewis Ronald to her London-based studio to document her production in process.
If you look and look for long enough, profound motionless whiteness becomes quite the summit of activity. Enough to see the outlines of goats, paint white and full of heat fizz. Or a glass of milk or a shock of hair and all of them symbolic optimisms. I wonder if mice or birds are perfectly wrought parts of some mechanical symphony I’ve habitually overlooked. If twigs and money are in fact forged from the same stuff, just painted over in military application with miraculous skins that feign a suggestive difference. I must get some work done on my face, must plant some poppies to commemorate, must be a good little guy. I think about contemporary technology, that chef of seasoning and sauces, and imagine its algorithms moving without mercy between settlement and amalgamation, from one dimension to four. I imagine a cosmos where a hand larger than Earth plugs in the right codes or taps with a pleasing manner of musicality and abracadabra there goes matter disappeared to diagram.
I have two rooms, left and right hemispheres. They correspond to a singular hallway. It works without me. The clump of skinny ferns in the corner never dies. I said look, it’s only a glass of water, what’s the big problem? and suddenly they’d shrugged off transpiration niggles and were living pristine as a printed picture. It’s not that I’m not the same as business folk worried with their quills and pens a-flutter but I see that like bodies, there is much character in rooms: the baggage of a tea bag with the same stammers of concentration as a cigarette. They feel us as we feel them and like galvanic skin responses or brainwaves, electricity connects it all. I am a blood person; this is a blood building, of course. Liquid lives do their busy rushing up and down, sometimes in the wrong order, as well you can see.
On the computer you can watch CGI swells mimic the exacting roll and swoop of the sea: a custom fluid dynamics system so complex it would take thousands of strung out numbers to explain it. There are active people devouring it, who reformat the dimensions and blast them straight back out of their brains to squelch on account of it. Think about it: a drawing of a floor plan is the abstraction of an idea, so one brain lives inside another endlessly. Fantasy and philology and ZIPPO there is mutation – sociological procedure, technological metaphor, erotic image, surreal apparition all writhing wet in a muttering mass. That’s the bucket of life, alright, all sucking gagging with its crusty cracked lips.

© All images by Lewis Ronald



Helen Marten (b. 1985 in Macclesfield, UK) lives and works in London, UK. She studied at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London and Ruskin School of Fine Art, University of Oxford (2005-2008).

Helen Marten was awarded the 2016 Turner Prize, and the inaugural 2016 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. She was also the recipient of the LUMA Prize (2012) and with KÖNIG GALERIE the Prix Lafayette (2011). 

Marten has held solo exhibitions at Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2016); Greene Naftali, New York, USA (2016); Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; Oreo St. James, Sadie Coles HQ, London (all 2014); CCS Bard Hessel Museum, ...
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