Self-portrait in this context must be understood as a comprehensive, continuous project, in which the artist attempts a translation of his own existence and feelings into wordless, three-dimensional pictures rich in associations. The relationship between thought and the materially present is at the core of Manders’ work. As though the power of thought can physically manifest itself in space, the sculptures are like a network of an individual’s thoughts, presented for viewers as thought materialised.
Already in an early work, Self-Portrait as a Building (1986), we can see this project demonstrated by the then 18 year old artist. A floor-plan for an imagined building is constructed out of personal possessions and writing materials. Scissors, glue sticks, pencils and similar objects form a plan spread out on the floor in which a rectangular building is flanked by two round forms on either side. We find here elements which are repeated in many of Manders’ sculptures: Ideas concerning space, building construction and the combination of materials. In addition we find a duality in which aspects of planning and construction meet an abstract idea about human consciousness. The floor-plan, with its two circular shapes, has a form like that of a two-headed human without arms and legs. Figures such as this, made up of torsos with heads of different shapes, are another element repeated in many of Manders’ sculptures.
For this exhibition tour the artist presents new work, which together with work from 1990 to 2005 forms a comprehensive presentation of Manders’ artistic production. The artist has also in earlier works made site-specific adjustments to accommodate the work for an exhibition. Elements and fragments have been put together in new ways from place to place. It is precisely in the fragments, and in the combinations of different materials and objects that Manders creates a dialogue and a dynamics in his exhibitions. His work is often referred to as a meeting place for sculpture and poetry. The sculptures can be understood as poetry given physical form, where the contact which arises from the juxtaposition of different objects creates a wide range of associative connections – like the stanzas of a poem.
The Absence of Mark Manders is realized in collaboration between Kunstverein Hannover, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Kunsthaus Zürich, and Bergen Kunsthall.