September 12, 2017

Daria Martin
A Hunger Artist

Schering Stiftung

Daria Martin, A Hunger Artist (still), 2017. HD film, 16 minutes. © Daria Martin, courtesy Maureen Paley, London.

A Hunger Artist is Daria Martin’s most ambitious work to date, bringing together some themes previously explored in her work such as voyeurism, power relations, the surreal, the artist’s myth, and bodily transformations. Her new film is a complex, multi-layered artwork at the intersection of literature, psychology and science that experimentally adapts the modernist masterpiece “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka (1924). Published in Kafka’s last days, the story is an ambiguous allegory about a public performer who fasts for weeks to the adulation of hundreds until he is left to perform for unappreciative spectators, and, ultimately, to barely please only himself, unto death.

The film A Hunger Artist (HD with sound, 16 minutes) highlights the contradictory human experience of our bodies as both "objects" and "subjects"—as matter to be quantified and altered on the one hand and as a gateway to phenomenal, lived experience on the other. The Hunger Artist’s obsession with his clock and his impresario’s enumeration of fasting days can be likened to the broader cultural trends towards "datafication of the body" (counting calories and steps, on a smartphone) and towards self-objectification through social media.

Daria Martin was born in 1973 in San Francisco. After studying Humanities at Yale, she received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. Martin has lived and worked in London since 2002 when she participated in the artist in residence program at the Delfina Studios Trust. Her work has been exhibited extensively across the world, exhibitions include Subjects and Objects, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, Ireland (2017); At the Threshold, Maureen Paley, London (2016); The New Human, Moderna Museet Malmö and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2016); 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, Istanbul, Turkey (2015); One of the Things That Makes Me Doubt, ACCA: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); 10th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2014); Sensorium Tests, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2012); Dancing Through Life, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2011); Move: Art and Dance since the 60s, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2011); Three M Commission: Minotaur, touring exhibition at MCA Chicago, New Museum, New York, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA, (2009–10); BP British Art Displays 1500–2008, Tate Britain, London, UK (2008); S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium (2007).

A Hunger Artist will be Martin’s first film shot on HD. Over the past 17 years, Martin’s 16mm films aimed to create a continuity between disparate media (such as painting and performance), between people and objects, and between internal and social worlds. In these films human gesture and seductive imagery meet physically mannered artifice in order to pry loose viewers’ learned habits of perception. Subjects such as robots, an archive of dream diaries and card magic are explored within isolated spaces such as the wings of a theatre, a military academy, or a scaled-up modernist sculpture. These protective yet fragmented settings, full of seams and shadows, stand in for the capacities of the film medium itself, a permeable container that consumes and recycles the world at large.

On the occasion of Daria Martin’s exhibition, the Ernst Schering Foundation and the Leibniz Association cooperate to organize a scientific symposium (held mostly in German) on anorexia, body perception, and self-optimization on December 8, 2017, with Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Ludwig M. Eichinger, Aikaterini Fotopoulou, Maya Götz, Tilman Grune (chair), Martin Grunwald, Robert Gugutzer, Nikola Kern, André Kleinridders, Tatiana Korotkova, Daria Martin, Emily Troscianko, Manos Tsakiris, Silja Vocks, and others.

The Schering Stiftung is a partner of Berlin Art Week 2017.

A Hunger Artist by Daria Martin was made with support from: Ernst Schering Foundation, Berlin; SITE GALLERY, Sheffield, UK; VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland

Further funding provided by: Wellcome Trust, UK; Arts Council England, UK; University of Oxford, UK; St John’s College, Oxford, UK

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