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Jarman Award Shortlist Artist Profile: Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

Date posted: 12.11.2014

In the latest of our Jarman Award 2014 profiles, London-based artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd shares her memories of a chance encounter with Jarman and reflects on the prevailing influences in her own practice.

About the Artist

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd's practice intertwines performance, sculpture, painting, installation, and video. Her carnival-esque live performances, which feature homemade costumes and a varying ensemble of friends and family, share elements of the bawdy anarchy of sixteenth-century wandering troupes, foregrounding key moments from art history and cultural production.

Chetwynd read Social Anthropology before studying art at the Slade and the RCA, and you can see the influence this has on her live performances and videos which harness elements of street spectacle, folk drama, ancient ritual and pop culture. She has performed and exhibited internationally, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2012 (for Odd Man Out at Sadie Coles, restaged at Tate Britain in 2012-13).

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, The Green Room, Nottingham Contemporary, 2014. Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: San Matthams.

Other recent performances (several of them the basis for video works) include The Green Room, Nottingham Contemporary (2014); Home Made Tasers, New Museum, New York (2011-12); and A Tax Haven Run By Women, Frieze Projects, London (2010). Hermitos Children, the pilot episode (2008) was included in the 2009 Tate Triennial, Altermodern, and is now in the Tate Collection.

Jarman's Influence

"I really like his films and I really like him as a person!"

Speaking of her own relationship with Derek Jarman's work, Chetwynd recalls excitedly encountering Jarman at Maison Bertaux in Soho and shares her admiration for Jarman's ability to work across different artforms and cultures. Citing his work as set designer on Ken Russell's film The Devils, Chetwynd singles out Jarman's ability to "bridge different ways of working" as something she finds particularly inspiring and something she is keen to achieve in her own approach.

Cultural Cues

Speaking of the main motivation behind her work, Chetwynd suggests that her biggest source of inspiration comes from other forms of culture and art.

"If I had to summarise what I'm motivated by, it would be other forms of culture  where the humour or the sense of drive and passion was linked to people having a genuine spiritual connection where they really believe that what they're doing has some sort of function and serves a purpose."

Chetwynd continues, "[my work is] a response to other forms of culture and art that I come across where you can tell there's a leap of faith or a moment of genuine excitement where the person has just made the gesture without knowing why,  with an urgency perhaps".

Bull Jumping and High Wires

Describing the process of experimentation which underpins much of her work, Chetwynd explains that often "a lot of the things I'm investigating don't necessarily turn out as I'm expecting... but then there's the excitement of it coming together and working in new ways."

She uses an upcoming piece as an example of this intuitive, fluid process, "I'm currently working on an event involving lots of different elements, including bull jumping from ancient Crete and a high wire."

Currently Showing

Hermitos Children 2, the artist's largest film commission to date, is currently on show at Studio Voltaire. Described as 'an experimental crime drama', Hermitos Children 2 follows plucky female detective Joan Shipman as she uncovers and solves sex crimes. The new film work is presented as part of a large-scale installation incorporating props and interiors.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd - Image One (Nottingham Caves)

Other forthcoming projects include those at CCA Glasgow and CRICOTEKA Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor, Poland (both 2014).

The Caves Film excerpt from The Green Room (2014) by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd is currently screening as part of the Jarman Award UK Touring Programme at Nottingham Contemporary on 20 November, and at Turner Contemporary in Margate, 22-23 November. 

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