The Beginning of the End

Beaconsfield, London 
24 Nov 2010 – 27 Feb 2011


bibliography:

Naomi Siderfin, ‘Mark Dean: The Beginning of The End?’, catalogue essay, 2010
Rachel Withers, ‘Mark Dean’, Artforum, April 2011
Eliza Williams, ‘Mark Dean’, Art Monthly no 343, February 2011
Helen Sumpter, ‘Mark Dean’, Time Out no 2108, January 13-19 2011
Paul Bayley, interview with Mark Dean, Art & Christianity Journal, No 67, Autumn 2011
Jaguar Shoes Collective 
Inscape 
Margaret Garlake (ed), ‘Beaconsfield: Chronic Epoch’, Black Dog Publishing, London, 2015, ISBN: 9781908966575

exhibited works:

 

 

 

 

Love Missile (7″ vs 12″)

 

 

 

 

 

Open Your Eyes (Syd/Vicious)

 

 

 

 

Christian Disco (Terminator)

 

 

The Men Who Fell To Earth

 

 

Retrospective Jukebox (1992-2010)
including:
01 Love Love Love
02 Nothing To Fear (The American Friend +-12)
03 Nothing To Worry About (Easy Rider/Frenzy -3)
04 What Kind Of Fear? (Alice in den Stadten x 4)
05 Go Together (The Wild One x 2 – 17)
06 I Didn’t Invent It (Lilith – Beatty x 16 + 1/2)
07 Goin’ Back (The Birds/The Byrds x 32 + 1)
08 Jane/Fonda (Barbarella/Klute)
09 Scorpio Rising 2 (The Gospel according to St Matthew/Hells Angels on Wheels)
10 Picture In Picture (TyhaerPGincatiurroeDoffoDeorruitacniGPreahyT)
11 Untitled (Grace)
12 Untitled (My Way Home + -, resting pulse)
13 I Can’t See (Vertigo)
14 Ascension (nothing/Something Good)
15 Universal (Turing Machine)
16 No. Turing (FRS.jpg/0-9.psd)
17 Untitled (Inverted Frenzy)
18 Untitled (Twisted Motorcycle Gang)
19 When I Was A Child…
20 Greta Garbo (1905-1990)
21 The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey)
22 Teenager (Moondogs)
23 Insert Coin (Nico)
24 Man(Son)
25 Police & Thieves (Version)
26 Crimson & Clover (Version)
27 Ten Years x 7 (5 x 50% … 400 x 4000%)
28 Bad Brain (Sire)
29 The Band (Vox)
30 Masochistic Opposite (Intro)
31 Justice Not Vengeance (Outro)
32 Darker Block (1 Thess 5:1-11)
33 Ur-philosophy (combining form)
34 Unorthodox (W/E)
35 How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (1 Cor. 11.23-26)
36 Carrie (On)


gallery information:

Having spent the 80’s in a post-punk wilderness, Mark Dean was catapulted into the eye of the art world in the early 90’s with his first video work Love Love Love. This piece set the pace for a body of distinctive work that was characterised by the use of appropriated clips – images often lacerated from feature films and sound re-mixed from pop music – and which focussed on the most fundamental aspects of the human condition. In recent years the emphasis on appropriated imagery has given way to the artist also taking up position behind the camera. Running across the Beaconsfield site in all three exhibition spaces, this current “Phase” exhibition, The Beginning of the End, offers a pause for mid-career reflection upon all aspects of the journey within Mark Dean’s oeuvre.

The installation Love Missile (7″ vs 12″), 2010, in Upper Gallery 1, is based on two versions of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s electro-punk debut single, played simultaneously from opposite speakers. As the two vinyl recordings loop, they move in and out of synch, accompanied by two superimposed video images of a figure at dusk – one looping for the duration of the 7” disc, the other synched to the 12”. The projected golden light on the water surrounding the ambiguous figure contrasts with the cold cathode light emanating from two video monitors, one showing a 7” picture disc, the other a 12” (rotating at 7 and 12 second intervals respectively.) The images on these discs are a series of cruise missiles being fired from ships, each tilted so that the missile is directed straight upwards, in accordance with the instruction of the lyrics: “US bombs cruising overhead… there goes my love, rocket-red… multi-millions still unfed… shoot it up….” The redirection of these weapons (which theoretically means they would never hit their targets) requires a total realignment of the rest of the world; a new horizon is registered by a white line crossing the vertical missiles.

In Arch Gallery 3, Christian Disco (Terminator), 2010 takes a three second clip from the Terminator’s point-of-view shot of the dance floor, progressively time-shifting this loop, and superimposing the results whilst cycling through the colour spectrum. The resulting video image is synced to the music from the end credits of the original movie, which is in turn accompanied by two looped audio recordings (“Here ends the first/second lesson”) taken from the ends of Bible readings at Wells Cathedral on Holocaust Memorial Day.

These complementary, large-scale works are informed by two foyer works: Open Your Eyes (Syd/Vicious), 2010 montages a slowed down edit of Syd Barrett’s song ‘Two of a Kind’ with an almost imperceptibly moving documentary film of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, apparently in a liminal space between life and death. The theme of flawed mortality is picked up in the audio piece The Men Who Fell to Earth, 2010, at the entrance to the exhibition which simultaneously loops two instances of the same music from Nicolas Roeg’s sci- fi classic, taken from earlier and later sections of the film’s narrative.

Visitors can view the range of Mark Dean’s art works made over the past twenty years, through personal selection (Retrospective Jukebox, 1992-2010, Canteen Gallery 2). The archive includes the works Dean made for a number of Beaconsfield projects including Experimental Religion, 2008, Crimson & Clover (Version), Rag Doll (Version) and Police & Thieves (Version), all 2005 and Picture In Picture (TyhaerPGincatiurroeDoffoDeorruitacniGPreahyT), 1997.

Mark Dean received a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists in 2009, and in July 2010 was ordained in the Church of England. He states: ‘I am interested in the relation of contemporary art and religion, but do not recognise any shared language with which to discuss this – at least, not at the level that either discipline requires. I might be wrong, of course. In any case, my work is driven by this question.’

This is the second in the Beaconsfield series Phase, which turns the spotlight on mid-career artists with whom the organisation has a significant relationship.

 


 

 

Rachel Withers, ‘Mark Dean, Beaconsfield’, Artforum, April 2011 

The phrase “Christian disco” might trigger cringe-making thoughts of buttoned-up adolescent parties monitored by censorious adults and lubricated with fizzy drinks and Cliff Richard hits; but that scenario couldn’t be further from Mark Dean’s grimly impressive video installation Christian Disco (Terminator), 2010. Crafted from a three-second fragment of the 1984 film The Terminator, it shows a young man and woman dancing in a disco, but, characteristically, Dean’s edit desynchronizes and loops the footage, distorting its colors and corrupting the outlines of the swaying bodies. Luridly hued skeletal afterimages trail behind the dancers, occasionally catching up with them and sketching skulls onto their youthful, unconcerned faces.

The work’s sound track cannibalizes the movie’s theme music with its clanging bells and driving beat, and stitches onto it two voices, one male and one female, recorded from a Holocaust Memorial Day service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. “Here ends the first lesson,” “here ends the second lesson,” they intone somberly, but Dean’s piece offers no lesson. Projected onto a large screen in Beaconsfield’s cavernous brick railway arch, it suggests both a gigantic danse macabre and hallucinatory video decor for a rave whose music plays on but whose celebrants have mysteriously disappeared. Hints of motifs from the Western Christian repertoire—apocalypse scenes or the horror-pornography of vanitas images—are grafted onto contemporary existential and political anxieties: nuclear proliferation, survivalism, or the effects of spectacular, hedonistic-escapist industrialized entertainment (such as the Christian derived Terminator narratives, or images of present-day clubbing and drug use). The viewer is left in the grip of contradictory urges: to saturate oneself in the hypnotic ambience, and to get the hell out as fast as possible.

The other large video installation in this survey of two decades of Dean’s work similarly attracts and repels. Love Missile (7″ vs 12″), 2010, features two recordings of manufactured punk band Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s single of the same name (with its calculatedly offensive “shoot it up” refrain), phased so they pass in and out of sync. The audio component accompanies a ten-foot-high video projection of a human silhouette, haloed by a sparkling golden aura suggestive of rock-concert stage lighting or a rocket’s tail (in fact, it shows a streetlight reflected on water). Two smaller monitors screen vinyl-recordshaped images of warships launching cruise missiles (these last are “deleted” with white strips, rendering them crucifixes). On paper, this conflation of rock, religion, warfare, and phallic imagery might sound rote, but the work itself is challenging and ambivalent. The doubled musical track generates slurs and echoes that lend it a peculiar depth. And the projected figure is likewise doubled so that its outlines never coincide. Ultimately, the work seems to embody impossible desires for psychical unity or transcendence—but though it signals the horror that can issue from the playing-out of such desires in real life, it doesn’t trivialize them.

Beaconsfield’s survey—timely, excellently curated by David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin, and a big achievement for a small nonprofit team— also included a “video jukebox” screening thirty-six of Dean’s videos plus the artist’s written commentary on each. Briefly alluded to is the artist’s childhood experience of rape, a shocking detail that suggests a searing therapeutic dimension in certain works. Goin’ Back (The Birds/The Byrds x 32 + 1), 1997, manipulates Hitchcock footage of a bloodied, collapsed Tippi Hedren, shifting her back and forth from wide-eyed dreamy repose to terror as she fights off Hitchcock’s attacking lens. On the sound track a repeated line from a pretty Byrds tune sings of “going back,” a paradoxically soothing reference to, in Dean’s words, “the recovery of traumatic memory.” Hedren becomes a surrogate for the artist in a nuanced and moving moment of crossgender identification.