A large white room flooded with white light, empty except for a huge triangular mirrored shape on a tall pole, swirling round and round, reflecting different elements of the high space as it rotates, hypnotising as the images become repetitive, with no opportunity for the viewer to influence or change them.
Inspired by the sign which revolves outside New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police, “Superego” represents on the one hand the never-ending powerful vigilance of the police and other authorities, overseeing and controlling from a position of height, but on the other hand appearing to be inflexible and perhaps missing what is going on underneath (unless of course there is a hidden camera).
Often the police and other authorities only have shadowy images and knowledge from which to build pen pictures of people. How recognisable is an individual from his or her shadow as it moves across the pavement and down the street? What are the characteristics that would enable identification – the silhouette of the face and head, the general build and demeanor or the shape of the clothes? What does the “Shadowy Walker” and his movements say about personality? At what point do the shadow and the person merge?
Using different media, Mark Wallinger explores self, identity and personality and the link with time at “ID” at Hauser & Wirth in London
The Rorschach inkblot is a well-known test by psychologists to gain knowledge of a person’s personality and identity from the answers given in response to the images as they delve into the shadows of personality and psyche. Imagine the opposite – having to create inkblots that represent personality. What would this say about the creator and what would the viewer read into these. Would the interpretations match or be diametrically opposed?
The “id Paintings” are double Wallinger’s height and arm span in size, and, adopting the mirror reflections in the Rorschach test, contain images created by Wallinger freely running his hands, full of black paint, across the white canvasses, inviting the viewer to both imagine aspects of Wallinger’s identity and also consider his own personality from what he sees in the shapes and shadows within the paintings.
Continually moving, as in “Superego, Wallinger’s work “Orrery” has four screens facing inwards with moving images of the New Fairlop Oak in Barkingside, each screen showing a different season with the tree from the winter shadowy silhouette to the full leaf of summer, reflecting on how identity changes over time, yet within a 21st century orrery representing Britain and the world rotating endlessly.
Some things change and some things remain in predictable cycles.