Studio International

Published 30/03/2015

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd: ‘But is it art? I don’t even care’

Performance artist and Turner-prize nominee Marvin Gaye Chetwynd explains why she turned her attention to designing a children’s play area for a London leisure centre

 [video1]

We visited the British performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, formerly known as Spartacus Chetwynd, in Barking, east London, the site of her latest work, The Idol.

From An Evening with Jabba the Hutt (2003), a performance piece that saw Chetwynd and her entourage wait on Star Wars’ most nefarious slave trader, to The Walk to Dover (2005), a seven-day pilgrimage following the path once trod by David Copperfield as he sought out his aunt Betsey Trotwood, the Turner Prize-nominated artist regularly harmonises the antiquated with the contemporary to bizarre effect, in order to interrogate themes such as society, human nature and taboo.

The Idol, however, represents a slightly less idiosyncratic venture for Chetwynd, having been commissioned by Create London – the foundation behind such projects as Open School East, Hitchcock’s East End and the Chisenhale Gallery’s Create Residency – to conceive an original soft play centre for the development of Barking’s new Abbey Leisure Centre.

The Idol, Abbey Leisure Centre, Barking
Opened 19 March 2015

Interview by Harry Thorne
Filmed by Martin Kennedy