“Homeless Dummies” by Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins' absurdist sculptures are always witty and mostly appealing. But, inevitably, they prompt uncomfortable and nauseating questions human beings would really rather not deal with. How can we be sensitive and playful yet so ruthlessly concerned with our own urges? Are tramps horrible, sad or funny? And indeed what the hell shall we do, as time goes on, with all our bullshit? Yet alone all those useless, old, and unattractive people who seem to grow in number by the day?

Mark Jenkins' sculptures might look cute, but they have issues. Of his “Storker” baby sculptures, placed around the landscape of his native Washington DC, Mark wrote “if by passing one you feel strange sensations in your nipples or fingertips, adopt the infant, breast feed, and give it plenty of TLC. It will gradually mature into a full size Tape Man or Woman to co-habitate with you and eventually take you to the Glazed Paradise � or possibly oust you from your home.”

Equally black comedy are Jenkins' adult-sized “dummies” (his description) of vagrant body parts in impossible and violent situations. All the pieces pounce with the benefit of surprise. “There's so much rubbish on the streets already that the pieces I put up are camouflaged and ambiguous. The vagrant dummies too; like real homeless people they're so much part of the urban landscape that you're desensitised to the sight of them,” says Mark.

The artist uses his own hand-me-downs on the “Homeless Dummies”, and makes their bodies using a dry casting process whereby he wraps himself in packing tape. (The babies, similarly, are made using toy dollies.) He calls placing his simulacra in public spaces “an out of body experience.”
(Mark Jenkins was born on 1970 in Fairfax, Virginia. He currently lives in Washington)

Street Installations (by Project)

MeterpopsTape Men (2003--)

Jenkins first street series in which casts made from his body using clear packing tape were installed in city streets in Rio de Janeiro and later Washington DC.
Storker Project (2005--)

In this ongoing project tape babies are "dropped" in various outdoor environments in different cities as part of a "species propagation movement." To date there have been over 100 babies installed.

Embed Series (2006--)

In this series, Jenkins dresses his life size tape casts in clothing to create realistic sculptures which he installs in various positions in urban environments—stuck into traffic cones, trash bags, cans, etc. He documents the reaction of the people who pass by them with video. The most watched of these videos features a figure sculpture positioned to create an illusion that it is sticking its head into a wall.

Meterpops (2005)

The Meterpop installation involved putting transparent lollipop heads onto parking meters in Washington DC on Independence Avenue (outside the Department of Energy).
Traffic-Go-Round (2007)

The "traffic-go-round" project converted a traffic circle (Thomas Circle, Washington DC) into a merry-go-round using horses made of tape mounted on the lampposts around the circle. The horses were faced the opposite flow of traffic to create for riders the illusion that the horses were moving past them.

Jesus 2.0 (2006)

Jesus 2.0 was a collaboration between Mark Jenkins and the Graffiti Research Lab. Two clear tape sculptures of a child in crucifixion position were fitted with LED Throwies and then installed on a lampposts in New York City.