Jenine Marsh – the dirt under my nails

Pictures by Paul Litherland

The Centre d’art et de diffusion CLARK presents a new installation by Canadian artist Jenine Marsh. Train-pressed coins, secondhand purses, plaster cast hands and flower bulbs are arranged on a low surface of concrete and gravel, gathered around curves of bent steel. Like a spilled pocket or a subtle derailment, the dirt under my nails engages with constructions and mutilations of value and agency.

Exhibition text by Celia Perrin Sidarous:

October 5, 2019
Montréal,

Dear Jenine,

You describe the sculptural process with utmost intimacy — as your body coming into contact with materials and objects. You offer casts of hands — they are always your hands, the left or the right, so that at times you are forced to use your non-dominant hand. You make a mold, that you then remove like a glove.

Do you know of my love of gloves?

The mold picks up the finest of details in skin creases, nail beds and fingertips. It stretches, smears and distorts. This distortion you either keep, adjust, or create intentionally. You sometimes add length to fingers or extra ones, undoing further the reality of your hand.

You make me consider the self, its boundaries and contours; what exceeds the body?

As receptacles subsumed to the acceptance of a substance, the molds are filled with wet cement or plaster. The resulting hands are rubbed with powdered pigment, often of a grayish silver — a form of frottage, that emphasizes texture and volumes.

Maximum contact is the process as much as it is the work itself, and your interest in touching has everything to do with surface. You tell me that the skin of things is neither inside nor outside — resisting definitions of either/or in favor of neither/and as an excess of possible ways to be a person or animal or thing.

You are someone who presses coins on train tracks, and has done so since you were a small child. You tell me of the train whistles you heard all night long as you were growing up, until they changed the noise-pollution laws. I think of coins, of leftovers; a perpetual movement, circulation, misplaced and lost things, things disappearing into holes in furniture or pockets.

This pressing of coins seems a habit or a ritual turned into a work method, an activity that you repeat and engage with, over and over. You manifest unexpected forms of agency. The plurality and excess of touching and contact involved in the making of your work, seems another manner of extension — to extend to their breaking point defined parameters of your own body, and agency, and touch, or that of other material bodies. A perceived dissolution.

Your pressing of coins is potentially illegal in three ways: the trespassing onto private land, the placing of objects onto train tracks, and the destruction of currency. You tell me that engaging in this illicit activity is about misusing existing spaces and objects. You destroy and mutilate specific material bodies, yet more precisely, what they stand for as symbolic representations of value and property.

A reminder of the potential and power in tiny gestures. I keep thinking of the tracks that extend and cover great distances and am reminded that parallel lines never touch.

Yours,

Celia

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Jenine Marsh (b. 1984, Calgary) is an artist based in Toronto Canada. Solo and two-person exhibitions have taken place at: Franz Kaka, COOPER COLE, and 8-11, Toronto; Lulu, Mexico City; Vie d’ange, Montreal; Entrée, Bergen; Interface, Oakland CA; and Beautiful, Chicago. Group exhibitions include: Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Mother Culture, Toronto; OSL contemporary, Oslo; Rupert, Vilnius; Gianni Manhattan, Vienna; Night Gallery and Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles. She has participated in residencies at USF Verftet (NO), Rupert (LT), the Banff Centre (CA), and Vermont Studio Center (USA). Her work is represented by COOPER COLE in Toronto.

Checklist: (All images)
the dirt under my nails, 2019
Mixed currency train-pressed coins, plaster with powdered pigment, second-hand purses, flower bulbs, bent steel, concrete, sand.

Images courtesy of the artist; COOPER COLE, Toronto; and The Centre d’art et de diffusion CLARK

Celia Perrin Sidarous

The Centre d’art et de diffusion CLARK, Montreal QC Canada