Selected works by Kris Martin

Kris Martin
Summit, 2009

Found stone, paper cross, ink

KM/S 81-1
249 x 81 x 50 cm

KM/S 81-2
218 x 56 x 41 cm

KM/S 81-3
196 x 74 x 33 cm

KM/S 81-4
193 x 66 x 43 cm

KM/S 81-5
180 x 86 x 48 cm

KM/S 81-6
170 x 76 x 48 cm

KM/S 81-7
145 x 71 x 38 cm

KM/S 81-8
91 x 79 x 53 cm
Standing on top of each of the large megalith-like boulders that comprise Summits (2009), Kris Martin’s eight-part found rock installation, is a small marker. When, and if, spotted, these identifiers change the viewer’s perspective and turn the room’s vaguely prehistoric ambiance into less numinous territory.

A small paper cross crowning each peak indicates that they have all been conquered, and by using a charged symbol whose real-life application connotes a range of meanings – of man conquering the limits of awe-inspiring nature, of a civilisation conquering another civilisation, of death conquering all – Martin sets in motion a stark thinking process.

Within the artist’s visual pun there’s also perhaps a metaphor for the importance of process in art-making itself. “The top is nice when you haven’t reached it,” Martin has said. “But once you get [there], the potential is gone. Dreams are what keep people going.”

Martin’s conceptual installation, repeating the same conceit eight times over, is a comment both on the futility of human ambition – what is left once seemingly unreachable summits have been conquered? – and also on the oppressive and absurd spread of consensual, hegemonic belief.

Reminiscent in their exotic roughness of the blue, impossibly steep and faraway mountains that steal the fantastic landscapes of Joachim Patinir and his 16th century contemporaries, these lifeless stand-ins humorously exaggerate the heights to which human foolishness and its quixotic desire can rise. “For me, they’re all very dangerous, mountains… They’re filled with a dangerous power, especially for puny little human beings, like we are.”

Other Resources
Additional information and images – Kris Martin
Various other resources and images – Kris Martin
Sies + Höke, Dusseldorf – representing gallery
Kris Martin brings new life to old things with simple but effective conceptual means: a three-ton bell at full swing that doesn’t ring (For Whom…, 2008); a small iron figurine of Don Quixote (2007) reading a book, with a round magnet stuck in his face; an adapted plaster cast of the famous Laocoön group sculpture, in which the serpents attacking the father and his sons have been removed (Mandi VIII, 2006); a compass needle that points not north but – employing GPS technology – towards the artist’s current location on the globe (Ibi Sum, 2007)
Whether by marking its passing or transcending the present Kris Martin’s practice questions the notion of time and our desire to comprehend it. His diverse use of the readymade from the antique relic to the highly engineered or more ephemeral and immaterial interventions provoke a space for uncertainty, enquiry and existential reasoning.
Kris Martin’s appeal to maintain a minute’s silence during the fair was an act that engaged every visitor and participant. Unspecified as to who or what it commemorated, this universal gesture aimed to induce the audience to embrace a moment of reflection, succeeding in temporarily stilling the wheels of commerce
Belgian artist Kris Martin creates objects in which the ideas and the materials are carefully refined. From a full-size church bell to a pile of broken wristwatches, an enigmatic bomb to a blank train information board, Martin’s works emphasize time: its making, its passage, and its role in aging. Martin explores time’s relationship to faith and to our self-conception and sense of mortality, and he cues into these essential elements of our worldview with a wit and incisiveness that is disarmingly earnest and direct
Whether working on the scale of monumental sculpture or de-materialized gesture Martin's practice positions itself at the extreme brink of cognition—how knowledge and wisdom is gained at the close of experience or how life is recognized only at the edge of death. Vase is a seven-foot high reproduction of a ceramic Ming vase. Its conditions of existence require that it be broken and reassembled each time it is exhibited
Contemporary Art Daily, 30th March 2009 - Kris Martin at Johann König