Artist Talks

Artist Talk: Mark Leckey


Mark Leckey introduced his talk by saying “I’m having a crisis.” Although that must feel like torture for him, it actually comforted me in a strange way. To know that artists who have ‘made it’, still go through times in their career where their inspiration dries up, makes me realise that it’s ok to sometimes not know what to do next.

A show Leckey recently had in New York opened a week before the Trump election. This made him think about in work in a certain way, especially as “the show was everything that I had made. A mid-career survey.” He therefore felt empty and desolate after it. I related to this feeling, as I feel that once the degree show is done, this will be an end point to what I have made up to this point in my artistic career, and the empty feeling will be a certain fear when I don’t know what to do next. All of your energy goes into that climactic moment, yet when it’s done, you don’t know what the next step is.

Leckey then talked a bit more about the hollow feeling he had after his show in New York, which collided with the Donald Trump election. I then felt that he overly pessimistic about art in general, specifically saying: “I don’t know what art does now,” and that “there’s a moment where [fine art has] shifted and it’s changed.” This made feel empty and hollow and I felt he was condemning the field I was studying, making me feel like everything I was doing was for nothing.

After this bittersweet introduction, Leckey then started talking about his work in a very chronological way, and like the New York show, gave an overview of his art career up until this point.

Fiorucci-Mark_Leckey_3Fiorucci made me Hard-core (1999)

About how ghosts haunt you. How repetitive it is, a dull process. “It was set out to be somewhere between a celebration between a culture that I thought had been overlooked and the other drive to make it was an exorcism”

It’s a history of underground dance culture in the UK. To me, the peace was about nostalgia, and the artist capturing moments that were important to him, and therefore other people as well. People would be able to relate to their own experiences of the times he was depicting in his piece.

The title was about a commitment to something as crass or commercial.

“All of the work made since then has been trying to get back to that piece because it had something very direct about it”

Big Box Statue Action at Tate Britain


Leckey’s piece was stereo system which was placed opposite a piece by Epstein (see right). Leckey always found the piece very ugly yet alien. Leckey wanted to communicate what it was. In order to do that, he made something equivalent in mass, volume and shape. He used a sound system where he played noise until the piece started to speak (in this case, vibrate).

This was done in three parts:


Borborygmus (Refers to stomach rumblings)

Sweet Seizure

The environment affected also the piece, due to the shape of the room and the way the sound travelled around the room. Leckey then experimented with the piece he made, by testing it out with other sculptures, including The Serpentine, a piece by Henry Moore. Although this did not work in the eyes of Leckey, this didn’t work “but it did make people faint which is good”. I agree with his thoughts, as the Moore sculpture was a shape which did not reflect the stereo system, and it was too thin and tall for the stereo system to ‘speak’ to it.

“Then there were more big boxes”

I loved how Leckey embraced the idea of refinement and exploration. He was never afraid to make mistakes and try new things out.

Jeff Koon’s Rabbit

Leckey has always loved the piece, and he wanted to possess it. So he set out to make a film which would fool him into thinking that he had this piece.

Leckey has always been interested in things that are non-human. Therefore, the rabbit was so perfect and flawless that to him it is inhuman. He then became obsessed with the fact that it is depthless. It cannot be entered or penetrated. There’s a flatness to Koons’ work which Leckey used to his advantage.


Green screen refrigerator630x340_Mark-Blower-110512-Mark-Leckey-Serpentine

 This piece was an internal monologue. The fridge on screen talks about what it thinks it is like, its internal functions, how it’s fuelled, what goes inside it etc.

Leckey was trying to become the thing that was outside of his own persona. He also breathed in the coolant from the fridge to get to an altered state, and wore all-green to blend into the green screen and become as close to the fridge as possible.

Dream English Kid

Leckey has so many memories from his childhood that he used in this piece.

This made me think of all the footage I have from my childhood, and it has made me want to write down my memories from the footage.

Leckey came across as so humble. He came across as such a normal guy. So engaging though. I thoroughly enjoyed his talk, and I am so glad I took some time out to research his work.




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