Marc Quinn


10 Monday 10th May 2010


Known for his interest in the public’s infatuation with the body, Marc Quinn’s latest exhibition at The White Cube, Allanah, Buck, Catman, Chelsea, Michael, Pamela and Thomas, explores how this leads people to drastically alter their bodies, in ever more excessive ways.
Quinn’s passion for the body is evident in his previous work. Establishing himself in Saatchi’s Sensation show with Self, a frozen self-portrait of his head made from 10 pints of his own blood, his recent The Complete Marbles investigate physical ‘imperfection’ whilst Evolution studied the point at which one’s physical identity begins to surface.  
In basic terms, these new sculptures explore the relationship between physicality and spirituality, between identity and humanity. Whilst modelled on the real-life people listed in the title and true to life, you may not think so at first sight.
In the centre of the room stands a huge white marble sculpture of Thomas Beatie aka, ‘The pregnant man’. Beatie was born Tracy LaGondino and underwent a sexual reassignment surgery in order to become a man. But he kept his female reproductive organs and became pregnant in 2007.
The sculpture is astounding: Beatie gently cradles his stomach with a maternal vulnerability that projects an intense innocence – in stark contrast to his cropped hair and stubbly beard.
Other sculptures include that of Michael Jackson, who agreed to model for Quinn, but died before he made it to the studio. And a portrait of Chelsea Charms, who has shockingly gigantic breasts – her website says they weigh 26 pounds each!
Favourites of the collection have to be the bronze sculptures of porn stars Allanah Starr and Buck Angel – both have undergone sexual reassignment surgeries but kept their original genitals intact. It’s an interesting and fundamentally challenging view – one highly sexualised sculpture portrays the couple in a logic-smashing transgendered sexual mash-up.
Joachim Picasso’s catalogue essay identifies the sculptures as portraits of people who “exemplify a disconnect between body and soul”, whileQuinn has said that the exhibition is “not about freakness, it’s about humanity.”
The extreme difficultly of defining any message behind the exhibition might just be its point. It’s not about judging the people behind the sculptures. It’s about real-life triumphing over science, and the fact that humans can challenge nature and win – an entertaining and horrifying thought.

Allanah, Buck, Catman, Chelsea, Michael, Pamela and Thomas is at The White Cube, Hoxton Square until 26 June.



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