American street artist Mark Jenkins creates sculptural art installations and his creations are something you’ve never seen before. Just like most contemporary street artists, Jenkins makes use of the street as his stage where he installs his artworks. As you might have already known, street art installations are intended to draw the attention of the public. Over the years, street art has proceeded beyond graffiti, mural, and pavement painting. Today, several street artists are cleverly using unconventional mediums such as pixel arts and even dirty cars to exhibit their artistic skills. Jenkins, in particular, makes realistic mannequins by using tape as a casting medium. We’ve seen lots of regular mannequins in malls and department stores that are posed in hilarious positions. But Jenkins’ sculptures are rather more shocking than comical.
The Washington DC-based artist began making sculptures out of tapes while he was living in Rio de Janeiro in 2003. By wrapping the tape in reverse and resealing it, he can craft casts of figures and objects. He started installing his tape sculptures on the streets of Rio de Janeiro and he was amused by the reactions of the passersby. When he returned to Washington DC in 2004, he collaborated with other street artists to pursue what he started in Brazil. Since then, Jenkins has completed numerous projects in many different cities all over the world.
Realistic mannequins in disturbing positions popping up in random places are indeed hard to ignore. One look at Jenkins’ sculptures and you’ll certainly do a double take. Due to their grim appearance and position, his art installations often create confusion causing some people to call the police. But Jenkins explains that his art never intends to scare the public. Rather, these realistic mannequins are depictions of marginalized individuals who are striving to survive.
“For example, the guy in the river is holding a bunch of colored balloons that are almost trying to magically lift him out. There’s always an undercurrent of hope,” Jenkins explains.
Jenkins documented the broad spectrum of his unusual art installations on his 2012 book The Urban Theater. The book includes photos of Jenkins’ art installations in different urban spaces. Additionally, it features viewer’s spontaneous reactions with his confusing artworks.
“I like getting people to question their surroundings, what is real and what isn’t. These days, people are so buried in their mobile phones and I just wanted to get them to look up,” he adds.
Here are photos of Mark Jenkins’ street art installations in the form of realistic mannequins in urban spaces