American artist Mark Jenkins is the name behind the faceless figures of the streets popping up in cities around the world. Staged in provocative poses, his startlingly lifelike mannequin sculptures are often social critiques meant to challenge the viewer to question their reality. In what he dubs urban theater these realistic sculptures provoke an array of reactions that transform his installations into multi-layered performance art.
The Urban Theater is Jenkins’s first monograph. The book “documents a broad spectrum of his compelling, often disturbing street installations,” as well as viewers’ spontaneous responses and interactions with his interventions.
Jenkins began his street art career in 2003 by placing a figure in a refuse dump in Rio de Janeiro to draw attention to the plight of homeless children in the streets. Since then the innovative artist has had his work exhibited in renowned venues such as Lazarides Galleries and the Kunsthalle Wien and publicly funded in cities worldwide. His art is made for the street, but Jenkins has also worked with the same themes in nature and indoors.
The ongoing theme of the artist’s work tends to veer towards dark subjects.“They often tend to be marginalized individuals, sometimes in lonely states, so it’s poetic but also dark. For example, the guy in the river is holding a bunch of colored balloons that are almost trying to magically lift him out. There’s always an undercurrent of hope,” he explained in an interview.
“I like getting people to question their surroundings, what is real and what isn’t. These days, people are so buried in their mobile phones and I just wanted to get them to look up,” he said, “So at the beginning, I was collecting social data about people’s reactions. But six years later, these images are more about poetry, of capturing a magical moment.”
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