The Breathing Room
Spring Break Art Fair, NYC
Sugared. Smothered. Consumed.,
TV Looping Video, 00:02:09
NEW YORK, NY – Monica King Contemporary is pleased to announce the presentation of an interactive installation, The Breathing Room, by multimedia artist April Marten for SPRING/BREAK Art Fair 2020. The Breathing Room conjures images of overflowing, manufactured abundance for mass consumption providing quick and fleeting pleasures that slowly transmute to permanent decay.
Created in response to the wreckage of climate change, Marten invites the viewer to enter a seductive but ultimately toxic paradise in which a pink palm tree grows from earth that has morphed into processed white sugar. The earth, the ultimate life-giver and mother, has no more nutrition to give, as HER children have consumed it all. Among the detritus scattered across the unnatural earth is an old television set somehow still able to play, presenting HER hot pink mouth, rendered mute, attempting communication with us through our beloved method, a screen. She is at once trapped and transforming rapidly into quicksand with the capacity to swallow us whole.
The Breathing Room can barely breathe in its saccharine state. Rather than clouds, we are surrounded by nearly deflated plastic bags-as-lungs. Yet within foreboding landscape, Marten has provided the possibility of escape – a window, the panes of which are thickly coated in a brilliantly blue, hardened sugary substance, which alludes to the possibility that it can be smashed open. Our circumstances then morph from the inevitability of our extinction to an impetus for change - humanity gasping for air.
Witness to all is Frances, a commanding and dichotomous figure central among earthly vices. Her hands are neatly clasped, yet her breasts are partially exposed, hinting at the duality of her erotic and nurturing nature. Does she look away in shame or defiance? She appears to be in a half-hearted attempt at a potentially futile prayer, partially mourning our imminent demise while indulging in her own vices. Though unable to answer the muted cries of HER, perhaps Frances is looking for a sign. Perhaps this is the beacon Marten provides, a light box declaring You Can Love Forever. Could the answer for redemption be a rediscovery of our Love of HER?
Marten appeals that we must recognize and care for HER lest her body transform to wholly uninhabitable ground and we slowly disappear into her intoxicating quicksand.