Mark Jenkins

United States 1970

Urban Art, Street Art, Installation, Sculpture

Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins
United States
July 9, 2014
Nina Karaicic is a journalist with experience in TV and radio media. Born in 1989, she had studied at the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Sciences (Journalism). Interests: Photography, Art, Film, Folklore, Video Games

One of the most famous American urban artists, Mark Jenkins is widely known for his macabre and shocking street installations made of clear packing tape. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, his approach to street art includes using the streets as his personal stage. He installs his sculptures in such a manner that they inevitably interact with ordinary people passing by, turning them into actors. Often described as macabre, shocking, situationist, and whimsical, Jenkins’ work often draws the attentions of the police. He cites the late figurative sculptor Juan Muñoz, Aphex Twin and Albert Camus’ philosophies on the absurd as his inspiration. His career began in Rio with one figure in a refuse dump – now his work has sprawled across cities worldwide, making people question what is real and what is not.

Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins – Installation in Tudela (Left) / Installation in Seoul (Right)

The Art of Mark Jenkins

His sculptural process involves “sampling” objects such as toy dolls, carousel horses, and his own body using a “dry-casting” process he first discovered while he was still in school. By wrapping objects in plastic wrap and then tape, he creates an external cast that he removes and then reassembles into surreal and ghostly sculptures. Every person he creates usually takes “…about 12 rolls”[1] of tape, with the artist’s wrists that are taking the hits from all of those repetitive tasks. Mark Jenkins’ surreal and absurd world of tape includes faceless figures sitting cross-legged on street corners, hooded bodies floating face-down under bridges and see-through babies playing in puddles. One would imagine that installing these types of sculptures is best done at night, in somewhat stealth manner, but the artist disagrees: “It’s better to do this stuff during the day. Carrying around bodies in the night would be more dangerous I think. But when we install (I do this with my friend Sandra Fernandez) we try to do it fairly quickly and always if anyone comes up I say it’s a photography project. That way the worst case scenario is that we’d have to take it down. But normally I just take a few photos and then sort of slip away.”[2] And indeed sometimes the artist does provoke the people around – it was in Palestine where a small angry mob formed around Sandra and him after they installed a guy in a trash bin in an open air market. The viewers didn’t care for this sort of absurdist humor, they simply found it offensive.

The world which Mark Jenkins creates is surreal and absurd

Mark Jenkins 2011 video life meet space is on view on his web page
Mark Jenkins – Living Canvas Series, 2014 (Left) / High Rider, 2014 (Right)

Jenkins’ Projects

In addition to making artworks, Jenkins also teaches sculpture techniques and installation practices through various workshops. As mentioned above, he first began experimenting with tape as a medium back in 2003 while living in Rio de Janeiro. One of his first street projects was a streak of clear tape self-casts that he installed on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Jenkins became immediately interested in the reactions of the people and considered his installation as much a social experiment as an art project. After all, the beauty of the street art is the reaction of the viewer. In 2004, the sculptor moved back to Washington DC, and a year later, he began working with Sandra Fernandez on the Storker Project – it’s a streak in which they installed clear casts of toy babies in different cities, so the works could interact with their surrounding environment, including the people around. The groundbreaking success came in 2006 with the Embed Series. These casts, filled with newspaper and cement, and dressed to create hyper-realistic sculptural duplicates of himself and Fernandez, created mass confusion. They even caused some of the people who had seen them call 911, resulting in police and rescue units to sometimes arrive at the place of the installation. It was during this time that Jenkins gained an international media attention for his work. The Outcast Series (from 2007) features more macabre works that alluded to both the finality of death and a residual ghostly presence.

Mark Jenkins makes more than just artworks – each of them can be observed as a social experiment, with a goal of engaging the people

Mark Jenkins has a strict policy on privacy, and has made a video about the topic
Mark Jenkins – Storker project in Washington, DC

Mark Jenkins and Greenpeace

In 2008, Mark Jenkins once again drew the attention of the police when his polar bears sculptures were mistaken for suspicious packages. It was actually a collaborative project with Greenpeace, which was supposed to highlight the shared plight of polar bears and humans in the face of global warming. The artist stated: “My intention with this project was to leverage my street installations to promote awareness about the issue of global warming and the plight of the polar bear. It was our shared goal that the public would develop empathy for the polar bear as they have for the homeless which we see as two connected issues.”[3]

He is represented by Lazarides London, Wunderkammern, and Fabien Castanier Gallery.

Mark Jenkins lives and works in Washington, DC.


  1. Anonymous., Exclusive interview with Mark Jenkins – Street artist, Notorious Mag [February 1, 2017]
  2. Ibidem
  3. Mathis S., Greenpeace, Mark Jenkins Take Responsibility for Polar Bears, DCist [February 1, 2017]

Featured image: Mark Jenkins with one of his works, image courtesy of Inhale Magazine
All other images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Mark Jenkins: RemixArsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal, QCSolo
2016Still Here, A Decade Of LazaridesLazarides Gallery, LondonGroup
2016Pop Austin International Art ShowPOP AUSTIN, Austin, TXGroup
2015Codici sorgenti, visioni urbane contemporaneeMuseo Palazzo Platamone, CataniaGroup
2015City Leaks 2015Urban Art Festival, CologneGroup
2015Moment of ImpactLazarides Rathbone Place, LondonSolo
2015Threatening SculptureLazarides Rathbone Place, LondonSolo
2014Les VraisemblablesNuit Blanche, Paris Group
2014In SituFabien Castanier Gallery, LAGroup
2014HorribleTerrible Ruttkowski 68, CologneGroup
2014Art WynwoodFabien Castanier Gallery, MiamiGroup
2014SCOPE NYFabien Castanier Gallery, New York, NYGroup
201450 Years of HellPositive Propaganda Artspace, Munchen, BavariaGroup
2014Bugspray  Dr. Bastard Productions, Richmond, VAGroup
2014Pixel Show Sao PauloGroup
2014Shangri-La HellGlastonbury FestivalGroup
2013ManimalsYarat Contemporary Art Space, AzerbijanSolo
2013Furries  Now Contemporary Art/VOLTA, NYCSolo
2013Ex SituPompidou Centre, ParisGroup
2013Red Never FollowsSaatchi Gallery, LondonGroup
2013Unsupervised  Lombard-Freid Projects, NYCGroup
2013Wooster Collective’s 10 year AnniversaryJonathan Levine Gallery, LondonGroup
2013Brutal  Jonathan Levine Gallery, LondonGroup
2013The StudioPatricia Dorfmann, ParisSolo
2013City Leaks Urban Art FestivalCologne, GermanyGroup
2013CONTEXT Art MiamiFabien Castanier Gallery, Miami, FLGroup
2013YIA Art fairPatricia Dorfmann Gallery, ParisGroup
2013UnsupervisedLombard-Freid Projects, NYCDuo
2013Vilnius Street Art FestivalVilnius, LithuaniaGroup
2013Volta FairNow Contemporary Art, NYCGroup
2012Walk & Talk  International Public Art FestivalSao Miguel, AzoresGroup
2012Glazed ParadiseGestalten Space, BerlinSolo
2012Holding CellRuttkowski 68, CologneSolo
2012Anonymous  Perm Museum, Perm RussiaGroup
2012Highbrow, Lowbrow, NobrowMAMA, RotterdamGroup
2012Five SensesVienna Tourist Board, ViennaSolo
2012White WallsBeirut Art Center, BeirutGroup
2012Rojo NovaSESCO Pinheiros, Sao PauloGroup
2012Living LayersWunderkammern Gallery, RomeSolo
2012Katowice Street Art FestivalKatowice , PolandGroup
2012URBAN PROPERTYBesancon, FranceDuo
2012RVA Street Art FestivalRichmond, Virgina, USAGroup
2012Beauty of the GameParisSolo
2011The Underbelly ShowOpera Gallery, MiamiGroup
2011Global Art LabCEC, Ilkholm Theater, TashkentGroup
2011Dublin CotemporaryDublin, IrelandGroup
2011IS MAYBEHAU Hebbel, BerlinGroup
2011Open Art ,Konsthall, ÖrebroGroup
2011Fountain of ClarityFIT, Pictoplasma, BerlinDuo
2011#1-5Savanah College of Art and Design, AtlantaGroup
2011Reality BitesVenice, CAGroup
2011ROJO NovaCasa Franca, Rio de JaneiroGroup
2011Family RoomCarmichael Gallery, VOLTA, NYCSolo
2010Subglobe 2Konsthall, Örebro, SwedenGroup
2010ROJO NovaMIS, São PauloGroup
2010Street and StudioKunsthalle, ViennaGroup
201042° Latitud ArteAvant-Garde Urbano // Tudela, SpainGroup
2010Les Grand TraverseesBordeaux, FranceGroup
2010Unbodied Pt IICEC, St Petersburg and PermSolo
2010Black in BlackThe Fridge, DCDuo
2010Hell’s Half AcreTunnel 228, LondonGroup
2010Meaning is OverratedCarmichael Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2009Purple SplendoVe.sch, ViennaSolo
2009The Golden Ass and Other StoriesStricola Contemporary, NYCSolo
2009Grifters  Lazarides Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Tunnel 228London, UKGroup
2009Manifest HopeWashington DC, USAGroup
2009Picnic In the CitySangsangmadang Gallery, SeoulGroup
2009Fresh Air Smells FunnyKunsthalle Dominikanerkirche, Osnabrück, GermanyGroup
2009Behind the SeenAd Hoc Gallery, NYCGroup
2009Santa’s GhettoBethlehem, West BankGroup
2009APOCALYPTIC COLORSGalerie Gabriele Senn, ViennaGroup
2009SCOPECarmichael Gallery, MiamiGroup
2009BELEF FestivalBelgrade, SerbiaGroup
2009Fame FestivalStudio Cromie, Grottaglie, ItalyGroup
2008Glazed ParadiseDiesel Gallery, TokyoSolo
2008Call it what you likeKunstcentre Silkeborg Bad, DenmarkGroup
2008OutsidersLazarides Gallery, LondonGroup
2008RecordingsTaubman Museum, Roanoke VAGroup
2007Open CityEyebeam center, NYCGroup
2007BMGAA  BLK/MRKT Gallery, LAGroup
2007Outcasts  Lazarides Gallery, LondonSolo
2006Santa’s GhettoLondon, UKGroup