Martine Syms

Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture [still], 2015, Borrowed Lady, 2016, 4-channel video installation. Credit: © Martine Syms, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Installation view, Martine Syms, Borrowed Lady, Audain Gallery, Vancouver, 13 October 2016 - 10 December 2017. Credit: © Martine Syms, courtesy Audain Gallery, Vancouver, Sadie Coles HQ, London, and Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York.

Installation view, Martine Syms, Borrowed Lady, Audain Gallery, Vancouver, 13 October 2016 - 10 December 2017. Credit: © Martine Syms, courtesy Audain Gallery, Vancouver, Sadie Coles HQ, London, and Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York.

Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture [still], 2015, Borrowed Lady, 2016, 4-channel video installation. Credit: © Martine Syms, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Martine Syms (b. 1988, Los Angeles, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. Syms is most notably recognised for her practice that combines conceptual grit, humour and social commentary. Using a combination of video, installation and performance, often interwoven with explorations into technique and narrative, Syms examines representations of blackness and its relationship to vernacular, feminist thought, and radical traditions. Syms’s research-based practice frequently references and incorporates theoretical models concerning performed or imposed identities, the power of the gesture, and embedded assumptions concerning gender and racial inequalities. Recent exhibitions include Sadie Coles HQ, UK (2020); Secession, Austria (2019); ICA VCU, USA (2019); MoMA, USA (2017); and ICA London, UK (2016).

Project Description

Martine Syms’ video installation Borrowed Lady from Tate’s collection are presented at Tate Liverpool. Taking a cue from writer Samuel R. Delany's reflections on how feminine characters are constructed through the compositing of ideal physiological and psychological features, Syms draws from her archives to speculate on the influences on her actor's gestures. Syms’ own practice is also formed of conceptual and critical inheritances. Alongside Delaney, Borrowed Lady is also informed by seventeenth century physician John Bulwer's study of hand gestures and their meaning; philosopher Giorgio Agamben's impressions on cinema's recuperation of the politics of gesture; and scholar Alison Landsberg’s formulation of mass popular medias as "prosthetic" memory.