I managed to get to the Mark Wallinger ID exhibition at Hauser & Wirth before it closes this weekend.
Mark Wallinger’s “ID” is an exploration of Freud’s interpretation of the id, ego, and superego, in is his first solo show for Hauser & Wirth, for which they have given him the use of both Saville Row galleries.
The id Paintings which are enormous: 360cm by 180cm, reference the artist’s own body, his height and his arm span. Wallinger uses symmetrical bodily gestures on the two halves of the canvas to mirror one another. a dramatic new series of paintings, which also share the collective title of id (though this time in lower case). Seventeen huge black on white canvases at first sight resemble giant Rorschachs, open to multiple interpretations which then reveal – according to the Swiss psychoanalyst Rorschach – insights into our own personality.
These paintings are mesmerising, you can’t help but summon up your own images within them, skulls, faces, monkeys, limbs and so on. They are not random mirror-image blots, they are made exactingly, with symmetrical dabblings, scrabblings, strokings and fingerings, forming a highly intimate self portrait of the artist, while at the same time forming individual self portraits of us all.
As a counterpoint is Ego, Freud’s definition of the conscious mind. Two colour photographs showing the artist’s left and right hands recreating Michelangelo’s almost-touching fingers of God and Adam in his Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
In the south gallery Wallinger shows a series of multimedia works. The first is a mirrored replica of the New Scotland Yard sign, Superego which revolves just above head-height at the exact speed of the NSY sign, dominating the space through its scale and projection of a sense of displacement.
In contrast to the id the superego acts to perfect, civilise, control, and suppress our behaviour. This sign itself is a brand, a logo, and seat of authority.
The exhibition also features Ever Since, a to-scale projection of a barber’s shop front. Filmed on a two-second loop, the ever rising red and white spiral above the shop door creates the false impression of time passing, while the clock on the inside wall is stuck at the same minute.
‘Shadow Walker’ is a 2011 film that Wallinger made by stringing a camera round his neck and holding it in position with further string between his teeth, capturing his shadow as he walked along London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. The shadow moves fluidly over passing strangers and slides up and down the kerbstones. It doesn’t take long for us to see the shadows as having an autonomous existence, as ‘real’ as the artist’s actual body.
The final work is Orrery, a film of a roundabout in Barkingside. By tacking his iPhone to the driver’s side window, Wallinger filmed the Oak tree at the centre of the roundabout and the surrounding area throughout the year. The film is presented on four screens mounted on stands that encourage you to view the work with the same motion as a car has going round and round a roundabout. The Oak tree was planted as part of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and commemorates the Fairlop Oak that had stood for centuries in Hainault Forest. Like much of Wallinger’s practice it makes a comment on our personal and national identity, history and society by emphasising and exaggerating every day moments that can otherwise pass us by.