Martine Syms: Grand Calme

Try to think of every thought you’ve ever had, attempt to trace its origin and unpick the roots. The unmatched speed with which they can take on new life forms, the positive affirmations, the lack of worth, the small but significant worries, all feed from a central cerebral power source. They move through minds with transformative swiftness, collecting energy, and developing into beliefs, complex narratives and defining identities.

Imagine if these fractures of cognitive process were no longer private, pasted up on walls for all to see, filling the space with their boldness. Picture each individual chain of thought clearly traceable and easy to follow, running across white surface, emblazoned with a thick, black typeface. This is exactly how Martine Syms has decided to depict the inner workings of her mind, in her latest installation Grand Calme.

Installation view, Martine Syms, Grande Calme, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 06 September – 20 October 2018 Copyright Martine Syms, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London Photography: Robert Glowacki.

 

Working across photography, print and digital, Syms combines these elements to present a multi sensory experience, inviting the viewer to take a closer look at her uncensored thought process. Honest, eye-opening and not always on the self-compassionate side, selected raw perceptions flow around the gallery, intermittently interrupted by flashes of cut and pasted photographs.

Exploring her brain with the systematic approach of a computer, Syms traces each insecurity, memory, obsession and fear into a navigable map, designed to resonate with all of us. The niggling doubts, suppressed wounds, criticism and injustices we all face, only relay and exuberate the struggles of being human.

Installation view, Martine Syms, Grande Calme, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 06 September – 20 October 2018 Copyright Martine Syms, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London Photography: Robert Glowacki.

 

Juxtaposed imagery floods the floor, making way for the large screen that takes centre stage amongst the visual chaos. A digital version of Syms waits patiently behind the screen for interaction, a purposefully designed AI then waits for your text message and sends a response. The figure speaks abruptly about everyday worries, work, stress and sex, laced with the banality of it all.

Single woven chairs are also placed randomly around the space, providing a moveable viewpoint to observe the full mechanics in action and perhaps a reminder that our own thought processes are something we often endure alone.

Communicating her own experiences as a female artist living in the modern world, Syms delves head first into the self doubt, racism and identity issues overshadowing her physical and virtual lives. With an authentic and conscious approach, her installation confronts the hidden internal conflicts and celebrations taking place every day in our own minds, normalising the insignificance of our individual needs.

Grand Calme is showing at Sadie Coles until October 20th.