Duncan Marquiss: The Clay Wall (4 stars)

Duncan Marquiss: The Clay Wall


To see our insides on the outside disrupts our idea of self. Blood and vomit repulse us because they muddy our notions of the self/other split, and expose the fragile nature of our subjectivity. It is this state of troubled subjecthood, and most specifically its association with adolescence, which Marquiss explores in his new video work, ‘The Clay Wall’.

The piece, which is punctuated with scenes of sonorous and nauseating viscerality, is uncomfortable to watch. Yet, Marquiss is not simply revelling in a disregard for sobriety or the joyful chaos of instinctual release. For every scene of prickly unease or suggestion of the supernatural, the artist submits a soothing frame-full of landscape or domesticity. The work is subtly critical of its medium. Not only does the film disarm viscerally, but the viewer is left grasping for a meaning, struggling to decide whether this is a horror movie or a realistic insight into teenage escapism. In this way Marquiss’ work exposes our need for narrative, whether surface or internal, realistic or surreal.

The rational idea of adolescence as a phase to be traversed en route to adulthood is exploded by the artist here. He reveals puberty as a period of ecstasy and limitless potential. Interested in the unbounded subject, and with a sardonic nod to the patriarchal practice of filmmaking, Marquiss juxtaposes the chaos of the un-pinnable protagonist with a perfectly prescribed femme fatale; an intriguing move which elevates his work to a provocative new level. (Rosalie Doubal)

The Changing Room, Stirling, until Sat 27 Oct

The Clay Wall

  • 4 stars

Solo exhibition by Duncan Marquiss, at the centre of which is his video work shot around the town of Aboyne and Torphins where he grew up, which he developed after reading about the trial of a coven of witches in Torphins in 1596.

Post a comment