November 19, 2012 - Chisenhale Gallery - Helen Marten
November 19, 2012

Helen Marten

Helen Marten, Falling very down (low pH chemist), 2012. Detail. Photo: Annik Wetter.

Helen Marten
Plank Salad

23 November 2012–27 January 2013

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
London  E3 5QZ

Chisenhale Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Helen Marten, featuring a new body of sculptural works set within a bespoke installation environment. This will be Marten’s first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery. 

In her installations, sculptures and videos, Marten plays upon our reference systems of physical stuff and a coding of the visual that establishes our most elemental relationships to the material world. Language and image become stylised outings of error, misalignment or perversion. Using the outlines of recognisable things as shorthand emblems for social activity or exchange, Marten explores what it means to be a human body preoccupied with the status of toothpaste, the floppiness of pasta or the eroticism of rubbish.

Marten creates a symbolic, pictographic landscape where the banal formlessness of informational compression meets the brute force of a more awkward slapstick narrative—at once seductive and ludicrous. Trash is pedastaled, desks are frustrated and chairs libidinous; alcohol lubricates the graphic, and translations of known things are scrambled and rewritten. 

Marten revels in what she describes as the ‘speed’ of the materials she uses. Components such as wood, steel, Formica or clay are butted up against elements more commonly found in domestic interiors, or the things you might keep in your pocket or trip over in the street. Materials are used as punctuations of and within surface; snags and seams settle in places where we are accustomed to seeing totalised pictures, and a perishable tea bag is assumed as worthy of content or gravity as a perfectly sealed steel unit.

In a text written by Marten to accompany her Chisenhale exhibition, she departs from a consideration of carbohydrate to explore the processes by which matter is transformed through linguistic operations rendered physical. The crisp definition of salad is contrasted with the mysterious gloopiness of other, starch-filled foodstuffs to consider the question: ‘what happens to image when substance goes on a diet?’ The ‘plank salad’ of the exhibition’s title conjures an image with uncomfortable physical implications and infinitely dumb, yet comic possibilities.

Helen Marten (b, 1985, Macclesfield) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Evian Disease, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Dust and Piranhas, ‘Park Nights’, Serpentine Gallery (2011); Take a stick and make it sharp, Johann König, Berlin (2011) and Wicked Patterns, T293, Naples (2010). Recent group exhibitions include New pictures of common objects, MoMA PS1, New York (2012); March, Sadie Coles, London (2012); The New Public, Museion, Bolzano (2012); Standard operating procedures, Blum and Poe, Los Angeles (2012) and Hasta Mañana, Greene Naftali, New York (2011). Marten received the Lafayette Prize 2011 and the LUMA Award 2012.

Marten’s Chisenhale exhibition, Plank Salad, is co-commissioned with Kunsthalle Zürich, where its first iteration, Almost the exact shape of Florida, ran from September to November 2012.

The exhibition will be reconfigured at CCS Bard in June 2013. Marten’s first monograph with texts by Michael Archer, Ed Atkins, Kit Grover, Flint Jamison, Beatrix Ruf, Polly Staple and Richard Wentworth, edited by Kunsthalle Zürich in collaboration with Chisenhale Gallery and CCS Bard, will be published by JRP/Ringier.

Helen Marten’s exhibition is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, The Cranford Collection and the Helen Marten Supporters Circle. With thanks to T293, Johann König and Sadie Coles HQ. 

Chisenhale Exhibitions Partner 2012: Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Talks and Events

Thursday 6 December, 7pm 
Helen Marten in conversation with Chisenhale Gallery Director Polly Staple.
Tickets available from

Saturday 15 December, 2pm
Critic and writer Michael Archer leads a tour of the exhibition.
Free but booking is advised. Please contact mail [​at​] to reserve a place.

Saturday 19 January 2013, 4pm 
A screening selected by Helen Marten, including films by Gabriel Abrantes, Sarah Morris and Seth Price.
Free but booking is advised. Please contact mail [​at​] to reserve a place.

Chisenhale Gallery
Registered Charity number 1026175




Helen Marten at Chisenhale Gallery
Chisenhale Gallery
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