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New Album

Pre-release: 21 June

Mark Dean’s New Album takes the form of a virtual LP, with two sequences of video and sound works: Six Days of Creation and After The Fall, corresponding to sides 1 and 2 of a concept album based on texts from the book of Genesis. These stories are viewed through the lens of art — film, video, music, dance — and from the perspective of artists. New Album is the latest in a series of projects by the artist slash priest approaching religious subject matter via video and sound art. Previous projects have included Stations of the Cross, with 14 videos projected onto an altar by Henry Moore during an all night Easter vigil; Stations of the Resurrection, with 12 video monitors producing a dance stage for a cathedral; and Pastiche Mass, with 5 video & sound works replacing the choral parts of a Eucharist. While these were live events, New Album has been conceived as a studio recording, in response to recent restrictions on art in public spaces.

About the artist

As a youth Mark Dean played in bands, with live gigs supporting the Clash and the Slits, and a recording debut alongside Primal Scream. Music has remained an integral part of Dean’s art practice, with looped and layered sound samples providing the structural basis for video works, as opposed to being an overlay or backing track. This treatment of music as material is paralleled by a consistent use of film as objet trouvé, and Dean’s work has been curated alongside that of other ‘appropriation artists’ such as Andy Warhol, Douglas Gordon, Jonathan Monk, and Richard Prince. However, Dean’s use of appropriation differs, at least from some of the more reductive interpretations of such work, in that it is based not on a theory of the emptiness of images, but rather on a theology of kenosis, or self-emptying.

Artist statement

I am aware of the irony of that last assertion, given that it is self-published. ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity’ says Ecclesiastes, but this may also be translated ‘Breath of breaths, all is a breath’. What is the relation between this and the breath of God that Genesis says created the heavens and the earth on the first day? I don’t know, but somehow I am both emptied and filled by these breaths. These days, I make my work in the breathing spaces between my days. A more established artist says they hope their work will last a thousand years. 2 Peter says that ‘with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day’. So I will just say this is just for today. Pop!