Exhibitions2004The Golden Thread

The Golden Thread

23 Jan 04

White Cube

The Golden Thread was a solo exhibition of Gavin Turk for which the artist produced a single, large-scale installation that explored notions of perception and suspension, image and reality. Throughout his career Turk has explored what it means to be an artist, investigating avant-garde ideas of authorship, authenticity, originality and value, subjecting them to a rigorous and playful scrutiny.

Turk has made a sculptural version of David's The Death of Marat, substituting himself for the bath-bound revolutionary and also a self-portrait in wax as the dead Che Guevara in his work Che (1999). In these works, Turk turned himself into a prop – the artist as object – a device that reflects the themes of transformation, disguise and disappearance, which persist in his work.

Turk has made various signature works that fetishise his own signature, and in doing so, paid homage to the works of Piero Manzoni and Marcel Duchamp, artists who explored the way in which a work of art is conferred iconic status. This preoccupation with value and how it is or isn't assigned manifests itself in much of his sculptural work. Bum (1998), a self-portrait waxwork of Turk as a vagrant, challenged the rock-star/artist status asserted in a work like Pop.

In turning to the street Turk followed up these themes in works like Pimp (1998), a rubbish skip in shiny black transformed into a high modernist sculpture and Nomad (2001-03), a painted bronze sculpture of a dirty sleeping bag. Other painted bronze sculptures of 'worthless objects' such as bin-bags, opened out cardboard boxes, and polystyrene cups further develop this preoccupation whilst also focusing attention on the receptivity of the viewer: how art requires a 'leap of faith' on the part of the viewer and how it requires the viewer collude with a 'performance' by momentarily suspending disbelief.