25 May - 27 August 2023

"I first create a social experience. I could be a sociologist. I think I'm exploring something that goes beyond art. It's a different experience."

- Mark Jenkins

Opening: Thursday, May 25th, 6 pm

Exhibition: May 26th – August 27th, 2023


The exhibition is realized in cooperation with zone contemporaine as a valued loan of the Fahrni Collection.


Artist Mark Jenkins (b. 1970, USA) transforms Artstübli into an overarching experiential space with life-size, hyper-realistic sculptures. In various poses and sometimes in interaction, the figures mirror our human actions and stand as metaphors for contemporary society. The faces are obscured by masks or hoods, the artist thus preventing an emphatic connection that looking into a human face could trigger. Feelings of alienation, surprise as well as irritation are heightened and the focus is on the posture and presence of the sculptures. Jenkins is able to evoke an interaction and emotional response from both human and image through the masterful composition as well as execution of his works. Indeed, Jenkins' installations are able to sow doubt between fiction and reality through the interaction between his art and the audience, which is the essence of the artist's work. Whether he places them in a public space or a gallery, the sculptures represent an exploration of human connection - a mirror held up to our understanding of the world.


Mark Jenkins began working artistically in 2001 and made his first sculptures two years later. He developed the technique of making the lifelike figures himself: The human model - in this exhibition the artist himself - is first wrapped with transparent film and then several times with tape. This tape form is cut open, removed from the model, sealed again, and filled with construction foam, cement, and a wooden framework for stabilization. Finally, Jenkins dresses the figures in his own clothing.


He is invited to Basel in early August by Artstübli to make two permanent sculptures for public space. They are anonymous, often lonely male and female figures, placed in unusual places or positions, and inevitably attract attention. They seem to tell of their otherness, of the fact that they are not part of a group, and of their difficulties in finding their place in our society. Here, his sculptures interact with passers-by, transforming the street into a stage that makes them not only spectators but also actors. In this urban theater, people's reactions become objects of study and experiments that the artist enjoys carrying out.


He thus drew attention to himself with installations in public places and deals with socially critical and taboo subjects such as violence, suicide, isolation, and environmental destruction. Jenkins' works are characterized by a precise, creative, and challenging approach to his medium; he is a pioneer of sculptural intervention in public space. In terms of art history, he draws on significant positions such as Juan Muñoz, George Segal, and Duane Hanson, with Hanson in particular being an important pioneer with his three-dimensional representations of everyday Americans. The theatricality of Mark Jenkins' work remains a central theme, using the exhibition space as a performance platform and engaging viewers not only as spectators but as actors themselves.


Jenkins is exhibited internationally in galleries, institutions, and public spaces, most recently at zone contemporaine, Bern, CH and Fabien Castanier Gallery, Miami, USA in 2023, Danysz Galerie, Paris, FR in 2022/23, ruttkowski;68 in Düsseldorf, DE in 2021, and Project84 in London, UK the same year.

His work has also been presented in museums such as Kunsthalle Wien, AT, Museum of Contemporary Art in Perm, RU, Centre Pompidou, FR and Beirut Art Center, LB.


Text sources: Basil Blösche and Oliver Fahrni, zone contemporaine, Bern 


Opening hours:

Thursday – Friday: 11 am – 6 pm

Saturday: 2 – 6 pm

During Art Basel:

Wednesday - Sunday: 11am - 6 pm


ARTYOU by Artstübli

Steinentorberg 28

4051 Basel


Philipp Brogli

Phone +41792879923