Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s sculptures and installations often start as handmade props, costumes and sets for her joyful, anarchic performances. They acquire an afterlife in exhibition spaces, occasionally animated by amateur actors and professional dancers, as they will be at Nottingham Contemporary.
Chetwynd is influenced by popular performing traditions such as medieval mummer plays, carnivals, communes, drag acts and political demonstrations, as well as the history of performance in avant-garde art. She is at home with the classics and with popular culture – and she uses one to give new meaning to the other. Her performances have referred to the ideas, images and storylines of Giotto, John Milton, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Dante, for example, but also Meatloaf, The Addams Family, Star Wars and Starship Troopers. Brought up on film sets (her mother is an Oscar-winning production designer), and studying both anthropology and fine art at university, Chetwynd moves easily between folk traditions, sci-fi, 60s Happenings and contemporary moral issues.
Never shy of taking on big issues, her performances and art objects champion the values of the amateur and the art of improvisation. The exuberance, absurdity, sexiness and delirium of her performances is underpinned by sincerity and commitment to the issues she addresses. These have included the state of democracy, gender politics and personal debt.
For this, her first solo exhibition at a public gallery in Britain, Chetwynd presents a selection of recent works around two largescale performative sculptures – a tent-sized Brainbug, leader of a bug colony in Starship Troopers (1997), which is accompanied by a sequence of scaled-down dioramas of film sets, and the grinning Catbus from the 1988 Japanese animated film My Neighbour Totoro. This converts into a video lounge visitors can enter and use.
A selection of paintings from Chetwynd’s Bat Opera series feature portraits of individual bats in a heroic 18th century manner. Others are Romantic landscapes of swarms of bats rising from caves and ruins.
The extraordinarily hairy Cousin Itt, of Addams Family fame, will be your host and guide to the exhibition, while our Gallery Assistants will be on hand to help translate his rapid, indecipherable bleeps.
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd was born in London in 1973 and now lives in Glasgow. She recently changed her name from Spartacus Chetwynd and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012.
As part of the exhibition a brand new performance The Green Room has been specially commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary, funded through Arts Council England's Catalyst Arts fund.
Brain Bug Performances
Sat 1 & 15 February 2pm
Sat 1 & 15 March at 2pm
Free. Drop in