All the Time in the World – Marc Quinn’s hypnotic sea shells land in Chelsea.
It’s quite a shift in subject for the well-known British artist Marc Quinn (b. 1964), who is most famous for turning to his own body for inspiration and, well, materials. Quinn, is perhaps best-known for creating a sculpture of his own head made of blood – his own – frozen and then displayed. The work, completed some 22 years ago and titled simply Self was certainly a natural progression in the line up that included exquisite paintings of his own eye (in x-ray and color) as well as large-scale paintings of his fingerprints. But now Marc Quinn, who will be representing England at the 55th installment of the La Biennale de Venezia (The Venice Biennale), has turned his attention to forms and objects beyond his own body.
But what’s most interesting about this grouping of objects is how Quinn created them. For the artist, obsessed with technology, and for whom the process is just as key as the final artwork itself, works in the series presented a perfect opportunity to redefine the very process of “manufacturing” art. Quinn used the real shells of different species as prototypes of the final installation. He then scanned them using 3-D scanners capturing every curvature and every deviation of the object’s surface and reproduced the shells on a human scale. As Ron Warren, Director of the gallery explained, the idea was to take a familiar object and recreate it on a brand new scale, thus transforming the viewer’s relationship to that object.
On this scale the shell, is no longer the object of easy manipulation by the human – it is his equal. The conch shell, in particular, conjures up a whole range of feelings and emotions ranging from curiosity, to a sense of comfort, to the desire to crawl into the glowing bronze interior and explore the world beyond the highly-polished facade.
The sculptures‘ contrasting surfaces – dull and polished, are also meant to communicate the concept of time. Past vs. present. Quinn suggests that the present is what’s being reflected in the polished and highly-reflective portions of the shells, while the dull and knobby, yet voluminous posteriors are the the object’s history and foundation. It is probably difficult to connect the two notions without seeing the sculptures, but once you’re in front of them, the proposition makes perfect sense.
Interview transcript on page 2
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