Artwork of the Week – Kris Martin

Liverpool artwork of the week 2010-43. ‘Mandi XV’ 2007 by Kris Martin at the Black-E, part of Liverpool Biennial Touched in the public realm 18 September – 28 November 2010.

“In myth and legend, swords are symbols of protection, purity and truth. Frequently they have the power of magic attributed to them, and act as harbingers of transformation and the fulfilment of destiny. Kris Martin’s deeply contemplative works revolve around the conundrum of existence, its transience, its moments of enchantment and its incomprehensible mysteries.

For Touched, the artist presents an upscaled version of a medieval cruciform sword. Made of bronze and stainless steel, and seven metres in length, this largerthan- life physical realisation of a mythical motif finds a piercing point to cut through and touch our innermost imaginings. The work is part of an ongoing series of works that includes Martin’s well-known Mandi III, a blank train arrivals and departures board that turns over endlessly without offering either origin or destination. The title, Mandi, stems from a colloquial Italian term for ‘goodbye’, an expression originating from the words mano (hand) and dio (god) and meaning ‘to leave in the hands of God’. Mandi XV is here exhibited for the first time as a hanging sword. Suspended in mid-air over our heads, as in the story of Damocles, it is a memento mori, posing questions about chance and destiny, and reminding us of the precariousness of all things.

Martin’s work offers an allegory of the uncertainty of humankind’s journey through life. His work sits squarely within a tradition of conceptual art, yet it engages not only our critical and intellectual faculties, but also deep-felt emotions. In this way, it clearly conjures up the affective dynamic of Touched, in which the viewer engages with the artwork equally through the senses, the intellect and the emotions.”

Text by Frances Loeffler for Liverpool Biennial

Only those brave enough to stand directly below the sword can appreciate this view
Only those brave enough to stand directly below the sword can appreciate this view
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