Interviews with Artists

Jack Marder

Interview by Amy Huggett

Published March 2015


Jack Marder's practice looks looks at many contemporary issues and cultural habits such as excessive internet use, gluttony and capitalist driven excess. Amongst other things his sculptural and painterly installations along with his performance works provide a unique insight into contemporary human behaviour.


One thing that stood out to me when looking at your website is the variation in your choice of materials and delivery of your work. How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Over the last couple of years I have developed more of a painterly driven sculpture based practice. As well as working within video I have recently played around with my ideas in a performance setting. As an artist, I tend to naturally shift between different ways of working depending on how I feel at the time. I am also very much a collaborative artist as I have worked in collectives and currently working with a friend on a project. I really enjoy working with other people – I guess it sometimes gives me a break from my own practice. It allows me to bounce ideas off someone else and I feel like it opens my mind a lot more.

If we refer directly to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Series 2014, the installation is a combination of many things including food products, paint, a swimming pool and a television. What inspires your choice of materials and the placement of each element within a space?

Using food products and the inflatable paddling pool were big shifts in my practice as the work started to become about the object and less about a flat surface. It allowed my work to have more authority, presence and it also became more of a physical thing. Both materials were utilised to represent indulgence. The paddling pool was sprayed a nude, flesh colour to simulate the look of an external body orifice or rolls of fat. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) series is more about a body of work. I feel that it is less representational of an installation based work and each element within the photograph you are referring to is an individual work but displayed within a limited space.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Series, 2014

Its interesting that you mention the altered colour of the paddling pool and that it is representing flesh. The use of colour within your work seems to be very specific. You tend to use pink a lot in your work, are there particular references to the colour pink and other colours you chose to use?

I feel that my work had a sombre and humourless feel when my practice was more directed towards painting. I tended to use colours that were quite visceral in terms of the internal body and were often quite dark. The colour pink had more elevation within my practice when I made the decision to make my work more playful as I wanted to concentrate further on the positive rather than the negative. The use of pink in my work relates to many things such as childhood, softness, sweetness, extravagance, the romantic and the feminine. The colour pink is also utilised in my work for its synthetic qualities and its association with the high sugar content foods.

There is definitely a playful tone to your work, but fundamentally your work raises awareness for very serious issues. Would you agree? and what are they?

Yes, I would have to agree. Although there is a playfulness threaded throughout my practice there are more serious issues and ideas embedded into some of the work. An example could be my recent performance 'DOUBLE DOZEN’ as it engages with ideas of excessive consumption, binge eating, gluttony and waste. 'DOUBLE DOZEN’ was performed on Black Friday, a day when retailers and brands offer vast discounts. The performance was to criticise and almost attack the way in which marketing and advertising companies induce consumers into buying a given product or service. Utilising a well-known branded doughnut, I went against advertising strategies which attempt to create associations of desire with products by consuming the Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the point of forming a sense of repugnance. I think by using my own body as a medium within this work creates a relation to serious issues as it could reference obesity in western culture. I also play around with ideas of excessive internet use within my practice and how people find escapism in the electronic screen.

Jack Marder during his performance of Double Dozen as part of Breaking The Law/Burning Down The House.

Using yourself as a medium instantly makes your work personal. Your video work has a sense of ‘escapism in the electronic screen’ and although you are the subject, you seem to have adapted a persona inspired by celebrity culture. Are you replicating a desire or is there a element of sarcasm to your work?

The persona used within my video work is developed from personal childhood experiences when I collected wigs which could suggest that the persona is a form of regression. This element within my practice came into play when I became fed up with focusing on the negative, deeper issues i was looking into and eradicated it to attempt to create a playfulness in my work. I initially did this through dressing up in my bedroom whilst taking selfies with Photo Booth on my macbook and my practice changed from that point onwards. The persona is definitely inspired by celebrity culture, more specifically the imitation of the celebrity within social media platforms. I am replicating a desire on the internet where users want to become famous through excessive social networking and commenting on the reproductions that it can generate. There are bits of sarcasm present as i tend to take the piss or pastiche certain things like narcissistic traits or constructed personalities on the internet.

What are your intentions moving forward? Do you suspect that your practice will continue to vary in it's use of medium? And can we expect to see more collaboration?

I am currently working predominantly in sculpture and installation that is driven in a painterly manner through certain gestural qualities. I intend to incorporate either a screen into this in keeping with my painterly aesthetic or put myself into the installation as almost a live art object. I feel continuing a variation of mediums would be beneficial for me as it gives myself much more scope and also my ideas kind of filter into either video, performance or sculpture dependant on the ideas at the centre of the work. In terms of collaborations, I am continually working within an artist duo called Marfaniel & Jardaniel, I have plans to work with a Birmingham based creative producer and performance artist on their project involving celebritism and the hikikomori and I also have potential plans to work with an artist who works with similar ideas and concepts to me in the near future.


Jack Marder lives and works in Birmingham. Recent exhibitions include Breaking The Law/Burning Down The House, Home for Waifs and Strays, Minerva Works, Birmingham, Untitled(Hot), B.21, Margaret Street School of Art, Birmingham, OAN 2, B.21, Margaret Street School of Art, Birmingham and OVERSEASONED Part Deux, It's All Tropical in collaboration with SALT & POWELL, Artemis House, York. (Marfaniel & Jardaniel Horowitz).


If you like this why not read our interview with Lindsey Mendick


© 2013 - 2018 YAC | Young Artists in Conversation ALL RIGHTS RESERVED