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Dani Marti

 
 
www.danimarti.com  

“For Marti, both weaving and (video) taping represent an act of bondage, a ritual which enables the artist to ‘possess’ the person that is portrayed. Aesthetics, pleasure, fantasy and security come into play reminding us of Foucault’s ideas about violence as an exercise of power that negatively affects freedom, and through which the dignity of the other is perceived under a new light. It’s a question of faith, of mutual consensus, but also and most importantly about portraiture as an impossible act.”

(Paco Barragan)

 
   
Works chronology  
   
 
     
Essays  
·
 
Arachne/ Athena/ Mercury/ John, by Morgan Falconer, 2011
 

Ovid tells us that Arachne was a woman from humble origins. her distinction lay in her skill as a weaver: nymphs were drawn from throughout the island of Lydia to see her work; even Athena, the goddess of crafts, was moved. Admirers sometimes suggested that Athena had been her teacher, but Arachne denied it, claiming she could prove her supremacy if only the goddess would compete. And so the two came head to head. Athena wove scenes showing the fates of mortals who had challenged the gods: transfigured into mountains, birds. Arachne answered with scenes denouncing the sex crimes committed by the gods when they took on the forms of bulls, swans, satyrs. When Athena saw the splendour of her rival’s work, she shredded it, beat her with a spindle, and turned her into a spider. and so Arachne’s descendants weave on to this day.

Artists, traditionally melancholics, are sometimes said to be born under the sign of Saturn, but it is easier to appreciate Dani Marti under the patronage of Arachne. For if he is to have a patron, it must be one that comprehends what seems to be the very stark division between his work as a painter/weaver, and a film-maker whose subjects probe the sexual lives of others. This book treats those practices separately, though the puzzle of their connection remains. Colin Perry resolves it by identifying what we could call a complementarity of pain and desire: “The videos are cathartic” he says, “the paintings are sublimatory.” The fact that the paintings sublimate feeling should remind us how indebted they are to Modernist abstraction and Minimalist sculpture – though they offer an eccentric and expressive version of that tradition. They are tributes and fetishes whose reek of bodily yearning puts them at a far distance from the kinds of Modernist objects we usually contemplate with aesthetic disinterest. The Pleasure Chest (2007) tangles necklaces and Rosary beads into a design with the all-over infinitude of a Jackson Pollock and the rich materiality of a Piero Manzoni. Meanwhile, as a filmmaker, Marti delivers catharsis by drawing us into his subjects’ lives of desire: Time is the fire in which we burn (2009), for example, telegraphs the confessions of John, a male prostitute.

But if Marti follows Arachne in one respect, he follows Athena in another: he refuses to judge. For the Greeks, morals were a human concern: the gods, immortal, were free of such taboos; they were thought to live as humans might if they only dared do as they pleased. In that sense – if in no other – John is a god, and some part of the compelling power of tales such as his is the narrator’s apparent indifference to conventional morality. Certainly, Marti isn’t going to deliver any judgment himself.

Or might Marti be neither Arachne nor Athena? Might he instead be Mercury, who traffics messages between the gods and the mortals? After all, his films often take a transactional form. Money might not change hands, but a deal is still done – Marti supplying the listening ear and the sympathy, his confessors providing the revelation. In that exchange – as in so many involving money – moral judgment is suspended. Marti never seeks to deny the appeal of his narrator’s tales, nor to insist that they are the honest and truthful product of documentary enquiry. His narrators, as they describe their experiences, are complicit in his probing; we, his audience, are accomplices, too.

If desire is the common force that binds the strands of Marti’s practice, on a more typological level the strands are also united by his ambition to portray. Of course, these are not conventional portraits, pictures that mistake a visual likeness for a spiritual essence: he does not present faces as windows-on-the-soul. Marti’s painting-objects are metaphorical, his films are allegorical: both use one thing to describe another. Beads describe their wearer; tales of sex describe a life with or without love. Marti doesn’t pretend to offer up the whole, essential individual to our gaze. Indeed, his work insists on the fact that identity is not a stable essence that can be recognised and captured again and again; instead it is something performed, and it changes each time in the performance. The damaged narrators in Marti’s films may well feel themselves to be “mining their souls” when they speak of their experiences, but what they surely come to realise is that that soul is worn on their sleeve – it can be changed at will. A tale told one way offers one version of a truth; told another way it offers another version; neither offers a more honest reflection of feelings than the other.

Finally, though, if it is true, as Marti suggests, that subjectivity is no more than skin deep, then it is surely a folly to go looking for any common strands in his work at all. He makes objects, he makes films; one urge finds its outlet in one form, another finds its outlet in another. The result can be the basis of a rich public discussion, not merely soulful contemplation.

Morgan Falconer

(Foreword from ‘Dani Marti’, Hatje Cantz, 2012)

 
 
·
 
Statement by Lois Rowe, 2007
 

Oscillating between hopefulness and failure, Dani Marti’s work is hinged to a representational paradox. For on the one hand it presupposes belief in the act of portrayal, and on the other hand it tacitly admits portraiture’s inevitable failure to accurately capture. But whether working in the medium of weaving or video, his relation to his subject is consistently fixed: an obsessive, laborious, and often desire-driven attempt to represent something of his subject that is beyond appearances. Something of a deep-rooted lust between him and his subject, something of an essence, something, in other words, beyond surface. But it is surface—quite literally—that we as viewers are left with in Marti’s work, whether in the abstraction of a large-scale weaving or in the flat documentary-style his videos take. There is no invitation to anything deeper than its screen, nothing objectively closer to ‘the real’ other than what one chooses to see and read into it.

Although Marti’s large-scale, woven works invite associations to Minimalism through their cool, reductive, and often literal approaches to material, his process adheres more closely to the precursor of that art historical moment; to more expressionistic ways of working. His relationship to the characters he portrays, whether intimate friend, stranger, or icon is an emotional one that becomes ritualized through both his methods of working and the claustrophobic proximity, which he develops to his subjects through his attempts to portray them. But due to the formal restraints he places upon himself as an artist, through the materials he chooses and the histories that are attached to them, emphasis becomes transferred from expression to the mediated nature of representation. To view his work is to be faced with information that has been rendered through its vital attachment to Marti himself, but it is presented to the viewer codified. Marti’s work is thus an explicit reminder that viewer subjectivity is the only place where the portrait can truly be generated. His gestures toward it are merely our starting points.

Lois Rowe

 
 
 
[essays should not be reproduced without permission from the authors]
 
 
   
 
 
BIOGRAPHY
1963 Born in Barcelona, Spain Angela Valamanesh
1978-9 Ramon Gomis, studies in tapestry technique, Barcelona, Spain
1982-8 MBA, Esade, Barcelona, Spain
1990-1
Diploma Fine Arts, Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney
1991-2

Fine Arts course, Art Students League, New York

2000 Master of Arts, majoring in sculpture and installtion, College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Sydney
2006

Master of Fine Arts, Glasgow School of Art

   
 
SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2011 And that's it, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
TOUCH; The portraiture of Dani Marti, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Australia
Book of miracles, Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
2010 Bacon’s Dog, Breenspace, Sydney
2009

Insideout, off site venue: 4 Parnie street, GoMA and Glasggay, Glasgow
Time is the fire in which we burn, Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

2008 One breath below consciousness, Breenspace, Sydney
2007

Glitering Shadows, The Studio, Glasgay Festival, Glasgow
Closer, Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
Off my noodle, Live Sites, Newcastle Region Art Gallery and Newcastle City Council, NSW

2006

Dark Bones, Citric Gallery, Brescia, Italy
The Seven Pleasures of Snow White, Sherman Galleries, Sydney

2005

There is nothing at the end of the rainbow, Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
Variations in a Serious Black Dress, Viewing Gallery, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Orifices 2000–2004 and Looking for Felix 2000, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, NSW

2004-5

Variations in a Serious Black Dress, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra, travelling to Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney; Port Macquarie Hastings Regional Gallery, NSW; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW; Albury Regional Art Gallery, NSW; La Trobe Regional Gallery, VIC; Monash University Art Museum, VIC

2004

Looking for Rover, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Orifices 2000–04,The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

2003

Variations in a Serious Black Dress, Room 35, Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney
Portrait of a young man returning a ladybird to the grass, Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

2002

Blue angels, Galeria Alejandro Sales, Barcelona
Mother is crying, Briefcase Project and Block, Sydney

2001

You make me feel like love, peace and happiness, Gallery 4A, Sydney
I am forever blowing bubbles, Room 35, Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney
missing spain, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney
Enhance Systems and Orifices,Span Galleries, Melbourne
Jamón, La Capella, Barcelona

2000

Thin Wall PB-I,Artspace, Sydney
Coco, Rubyayre Gallery, Sydney
Sorry I just dropped my guts, The Lounge, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Liverpool, Australia
Looking for felix, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney

1999

WS-S#, Room 35, Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney

 
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2011

Group Show, Breenspace, Sydney
Lets the healing begin, IMA, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
INHABIT, Third floor, building 2, 92 White Post Lane, London
Art of the Ordinary,  Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
Espiritu de Epoca, Una Decada de Pintura, MIAC, Lanzarote
Highly Strung, Peter Potter Gallery, Scotland 
  

2010

Social Documents: The Ethics of Encounter, Stills, Edinburgh
CinemaX: what I like to watch, MOCCA, Toronto
100 YEARS: Highlights from the University of Queensland Art Collection, Brisbane
Vocal Thoughts, CACSA, Adelaide
Cine the Barrio: La Velada de Santa Lucia, Maracaibo, Venezuela
Hands On, Hazelhurst Reegional Art Gallery, Sydney

2009

Non Age, Kunstalle Winterthur, Zurich
Runing Time: artists films in Scotland: 1960 to now, Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Biennal de Lazarote: Energy, Crisis, Creation, MIAC, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Ou va la video?, Kaunas In Artm Lithuania, Tina B festival, Prague; Palazzo Ducale, Genova.
The University of Queensland National Artists' Self-Potrait Prize 2009, UQM, Brisbane

2008

New, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
50x50,
Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
Jam,
Peloton, Sydney
IDENTIDADES: Arte y sexos,
Sala Astragal, Gijon, Spain
Festival SOS 4.8,
Dept. of Culture Region Murcia, Spain
Gifts to the collection,
Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, Australia
Glasgow International,
GI 2008, Glasgow
Australian,
Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool, Australia
Plastic Theory,
Peloton, Sydney

2007

M.A.S.H. Expanded Painting, coinciding with Miami Basel, Miami
Trouble with the weather,
UTS Gallery, Sydney
Cornice Art Fair, Venice
He dominates all,
Black Box, Puerto Rico

2006-7

Strange Cargo: Contemporary Art as a State of Encounter, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW, touring regional galleries in NSW, VIC and QLD

2006

Tomorrow Now, Foundation Bevilacqua Lamasa, Venice
The Projection Room,
coinciding with the Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool
A man's world,
Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane
Love Video 2006,
Gallery Sad- Artunison-, Moscow
VADS Festival Internacional de Video i Arts Digitals,
Girona
Iondromo Film Competition,
M+B studio, Venice
Goods to Declare: MFA International,
Bezalel Art School, Tel Aviv
Celeste Art Prize, Goldsmiths University of London, The Old Truman Brewery, London
Marks and Comments, MFA degree show, Tramway, Glasgow and MoCa, Roskilde, Denmark
Gridlines, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle NSW
Il Premio Internacional de Pintura de Castellon, Fundacion Astroc, Madrid
SCREAM Sounding Images, in collaboration with Diana Simpson, CalArts, Los Angeles

2005

POST, Residence Gallery, London and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Il Premio Internacional de Pintura de Castellon,
Espai, Castellon
Glad Wrap-up,
Sherman Galleries, Sydney
VAD Festival Internacional de Video i Arts Digitals,
Girona
Academy Now!,
sound collaborations with Diana Simpson and Vivian Barty-Taylor, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow
Good and gruseom,
CCA Student Lab Night, CCA, Glasgow
Arafura Craft Exchange,
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
New Town Pasadena,
in collaboration with Diana Simpson, Armory Centre for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
Nuit Blanche,
Paris

2004

One Of: Festivus 04, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
PistilsI Petals,
Pundacio Espais Conteporanis, Girona

2003

Festivus, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Summer Show,
Arc One Gallery, Melbourne
25 years of Mardi Gras, Tin Shesd Gallery, Sydney
Home Sweet Home: Works from the Peter Fay Collection, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Canberra Contemporary Art Space and The Arts Store Award 2003, CCAS, Canberra

 
SELECTED AWARDS
2010 Residency at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
New York Studio Residency for 2012, Australia Council for the Arts
2009

Gallery of Modern Art residency in conjunction with Gay men's Health, Glasgow

2007

Newcastle Regional Gallery residency, Newcastle, Australia

 
COLLECTIONS

MCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
GoMA, Glasgow, Scotland
The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia
Chartwell Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, New South Wales, Australia
Penny Clive Collection, Detached Gallery, Tasmania, Australia
Artbank, Sydney, Australia