Marvin Gaye Chetwynd - Artist's portrait - Image via btno

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd /   Alalia Chetwynd

United Kingdom 1973

Performance Art

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd
Alalia Chetwynd
United Kingdom
September 15, 2016
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

Dealing with radicalism and sharp social commentary, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd or Spartacus Chetwynd, born as Alalia Chetwynd, creates performances that manage to process serious themes through the combination of epic ambition and hilarious free-form extravaganzas. Her picturesque and carnivalesque events involve the group of participants, mostly her friends and relatives, strange home-made costumes and accessories, reflecting the wide range of sources, from Hieronymus Bosch and Rabelais to Meatloaf and Conan the Barbarian. Merging the practice of performance, sculpture, painting, installation and video her work uses the elements of folk plays, street spectacles, literature and various other genres conjoined in the realm of her distinctive style, marked by improvisation and spontaneity.

 The artist showed this new performance and video in 2016 at her home in liverpool and in studio at nottingham
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – The Green Room Performance, 2014

From Alalia to Spartacus and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

Chetwynd was born in 1973 in London where she gained her education in anthropology at the University College London (UCL) and later in painting at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Arts and the Royal College of Art. Working with her performance group in one project in 2006, she has thought she needed a more robust name that was Alalia and decided to change it to Spartacus, after the slave who drew together people of different nationalities and cultures to rise against the Roman empire. Seven years later, she changed her mind again, choosing to name herself Marvin Gaye, because of being so taken by his life, using that story as the reminder to herself to protect the most important thing she has in her life – the family[1]. Making the reinterpretations if the iconic moments from cultural history, particularly the examples of extremist behavior and belief, her performances erase the wisdom and insanity, revealing the creativity of utopian vision instead. Trying to completely immerse into the world of her subjects, the artist herself describes her approach as “unbridled enthusiasm” considering the aim of respecting their passions and contributions with her own.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd was previously known as Spartacus Chetwynd

 The artist was nominated for turner prize in 2012
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – Untitled, Installation view, 2014

The Carnival Pieces made of Enthusiasm

Never using finished products, Chetwynd makes costumes from materials she dyes using paint and salt and creates masks and other accessories from latex molds or cardboard, emphasizing the importance of one person’s efforts which always have real and meaningful consequences. “Enthusiasm makes sense to me,” Chetwynd reveals. “My work is more like comedy or carnival rather than something that is professionalised; it has a fun rebellious energy. Humour is often marginalised, it’s underestimated how hard you have to work to get or keep your ground. My performances are really gestural and are not meant to exist afterward. I wanted to burn the costumes after but really had to change my attitude. My heroes are the Marx Brothers, but I only know them from the video. They bothered to make their fun, gestural, off-hand experience package-able, not in a dark way but in a way that people can enjoy afterward forever. It’s important to make an effort to make things that last so they can continue to communicate to people.”[2]One of her prominent works, Hermitos Children (2008), twenty-minute experimental crime drama, took a form of a pilot episode on TV. Following the protagonist Joan Shipman, a transgender female detective who investigates sex crimes and bizarre murder of women who died from multiple orgasms on a dildo seesaw, the vague and abstract narrative use humor and amateurism as a counterweight to formalities of performance. Non-professional actors in hand-made costumes adopt the elements of parody, placing the film between reality, fiction and dreams. The second episode of Hermitos Children was shown in 2014, at the art gallery Studio Voltaire in London[3].

The Hermitos Children got its second episode in 2014

 She will show new film at tate in 2016 and than in liverpool and nottingham
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – Listen up, 2014

Exhibitions and Recognitions

After her participation in New Contemporaries in 2004, she was nominated for the Beck’s Futures prize next year. Her puppet-play based on The Book of Genesis, Paradise Lost, and The German Ideology, named The Fall of Man was represented at the 2006 Tate Triennial, and on the next one, in 2009, Chetwynd contributed with her work Hermitos Children. This filmed performance was described as “Silly beyond words and teetered at times on the edge of porn – but once you start looking at it I defy you to tear yourself away.” Her works are a part of collections of Saatchi Gallery, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zürich, the Tate in London, and the British Council. In 2012, she was nominated for the Turner Prize.

The artist is represented by Massimo de Carlo in London and Milan.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd lives and works in London.


  1. Benedictus, L. (2013) Why I changed my name to Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, The Guardian [September 14, 2016]
  2. Anonymous. Marvin Gaye Chetwynd exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, The Saatchi Gallery [September 14, 2016]
  3. Fakhr, L. (2009) Hermitos Children, the pilot episode 2008, The Tate [September 14, 2016]

Featured image: Marvin Gaye Chetwynd – Artist’s portrait – Image via
All images courtesy of Cadies Coles

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Camshafts in the Rain Marvin Gaye ChetwyndBonner Kunstverein, BonnSolo
2016Liverpool Biennial 2016Liverpool Biennial, LiverpoolGroup
2016Ready For The Stage / Act 1 (1900-2016)Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, RemagenGroup
2015A blur, a beautiful blurry blurGalerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg, Germany Group
2015Lustwarande ’15 – Rapture & PainFundament Foundation, Tilburg, The Netherlands Group
2015Glasgow Open House 2015Glasgow, ScotlandGroup
2015Toys Redux – On Play and CritiqueMigros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland Group
2015Edinburgh Art FestivalEdinburgh Group
2014Marvin Gaye ChetwyndNottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK Solo
2014Hermitos Children 2Studio Voltaire, London Solo
2014Reclaimed – The Second Life of SculptureThe Briggait, Glasgow International, Glasgow, Scotland Group
2014L’Almanach 14Le Consortium, Dijon, France Group
2014Hans im GlückKunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna Group
2014Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyMiddlebury College Museum of Art, MiddleburyGroup
2014Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyDelaware Art Museum, Wilmington, USAGroup
2014Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyKrakow Theatrical Reminiscences, Krakow, PolandGroup
2014Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyQUT Art Museum, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia Group
2014Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyGertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Australia Group
2014The ListCampbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, Australia Group
2014Nic 2 razy - Nothing TwiceCentre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor CRICOTEKA, Kraków, Poland Group
2014Bat Opera 2Massimo De Carlo, Milan, ItalySolo
2014Marvin Gaye ChetwyndSadie Coles HQ, London Solo
2014Group ShowHestercombe House, Taunton, UK Group
2013AnalogitalUtah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, USA Group
2013Les modes sont toujours charmantes1 rue Oscar II, Nice, France Group
2013Folk DevilDavid Zwirner Gallery, New YorkGroup
2013Ihre Geschichte(n) - Their HistoriesBonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany Group
2013Thrift Radiates HappinessMunicipal Bank, Birmingham UK Group
2013Puppet ShowEastside Projects, Birmingham, UK Group
2013AquatopiaTate St Ives, St Ives, UK Group
2013Performa 13Performa 13 Hub, New YorkGroup
2013Marvin Gaye ChetwyndThe Monteverdi Gallery, Castiglioncello del Trinoro, Monteverdi, Tuscany, Italy Solo
2013Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyH&R Block Artspace, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas CityGroup
2013Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyJewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow Group
2013AquatopiaNottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UKGroup
2012The Walk to DoverVictorian displays, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK Group
2012Revisitations: Saatchi Gallery Returns to Ipswich Art SchoolIpswich Art School, Ipswich, UK Group
2012Topsyturvyde Appel, Amsterdam Group
2012Marvin Gaye ChetwyndGalerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin Solo
2012Performance Now: The First Decade of the New CenturyEzra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, USA Group
2012R4, Special FIAC ProjectIle Seguin, Paris Group
2012Turner PrizeTate Britain, London Group
20113rd Thessaloniki BiennialThessaloniki, Greece Group
2011Saatchi Gallery in Adelaide: British Art NowArt Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia Group
2011Bat Opera 33Gallery 61, Tate Britain, London Group
2011British Art Show 7: In the Days of the CometHayward Gallery, London Group
2011Home Made TasersStudio 231, New Museum, New YorkSolo
2011Odd Man OutSadie Coles HQ, London Solo
2011Collection - migros museum für gegenwartskunst ZürichKunsthalle Krems, Austria Group
2011FACTS & SYSTEMS – A Science Fair120 East Road, London Group
2010The Library of Babel - In and Out of PlaceZabludowicz Collection, Project Space 176, London Group
2010Le Printemps de Septembre a ToulouseMuseum les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France Group
2010Jarman Award 2010Spacex, Exeter, UK Group
2010CollectionMigros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland Group
2010Grand NationalVestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway Group
2010Get Behind Me Satan and PushPeres Projects, Berlin Group
2010The Grid System - A RegimeMalta Contemporary Art, Malta Group
2010The Perpetual DialogueAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York Group
2010Jarman Award 2010Arnolfini, Bristol, UKGroup
2010Jarman Award 2010Whitechapel Gallery, LondonGroup
2010British Art Show 7: In the Days of the CometNottingham Castle, Nottingham, UK Group
2010Everlasting GobstopperMichael Benevento, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2009Newspeak: British Art NowThe State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia Group
2009Floors – WallsGalerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin Group
2009AltermodernTate Triennial, Tate Britain, London Group
2008This is the Gallery and the Gallery is Many ThingsEastside Projects, Birmingham, UK Group
2008Help, I’m trapped in a Muzuzah FactoryLe Consortium, Dijon, France Solo
2008Collection 1978 – 2008Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, SwitzerlandGroup
2008Martian Museum of Terrestrial ArtBarbican Art Gallery, London Group
2008Don’t Play with Dead ThingsThe National Contemporary Art Center of Villa Arson, Nice, France Group
2008The Skat PlayersVilma Gold, London Group
2008The Snail RaceMassimo de Carlo, Milan, Italy Solo
2008A show of many parts, each part more spectacular and elaborate than the lastThe City Gallery, Leicester, UK Group
2008Summer ShowGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria Group
2007Stay Forever and EverSouth London Gallery, London Group
2007Spartacus ChetwyndMigros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland Solo
2007A Comedy of ErrorsArtspace, Sydney, AustraliaGroup
2007The Call of the WildOne Mile Program, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh Solo
2007Phantasie Fotostudio (with Esther Teichmann)Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin Solo
2007The Perfect Man ShowWhite Columns, New York (NY) Group
2006Tate TriennialTate Britain, London Group
2006L’Apres-midi d’un FaunEleni Koroneou, Athens Group
2006ActionFRAC Provence-Alpes-Cotes D’Azur, France Group
2006Money – a Cautionary TalePositions (Herald St), Art Basel Miami, Miami, USA Solo
2005InauguralHerald St, LondonGroup
2005Dance of the Seven VeilsCooper Gallery, Dundee, UK Group
2005Bridge Freezes Before RoadGladstone Gallery, New York Group
2005Herald St & The Modern Institute PresentGavin Brown’s enterprise, New York and Herald St, London Group
2005Other People’s ProjectsWhite Columns, New YorkGroup
2005Do Not Interrupt Your ActivitiesRCA CCA, London Group
2005London in Zurich, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Switzerland Group
2005Beck’s FuturesICA, London Group
2005Think + WonderMuseum of Childhood, London Group
2004PaintingKate MacGarry, London Group
2004Alterity DisplayLawrence O'Hana Gallery, London Group
2004Bat OperaMillers Terrace, London Solo
2004New ContemporariesBarbican Art Gallery, London, The Coach Shed, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK Group
2004Year ZeroNorthern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK Group
2003Babak Ghazi curates the fridgeMagnifitat & Son, Edinburgh Group
2003Picture Room (collaboration with Goshka Macuga)Gasworks, London Group
2003Group Shows Are a Waste of TimeHoxton Distillery, London Group
2003ChockerfuckingblokedJeffrey Charles Gallery, London Group
2002Kontakte, norwegianlady record sleevesNeon Gallery, London Group
2002Dusu ChoiInstitute of Culture, Korea Group
2002GatsbyTamsin Morse, New Lansdowne Club, London Group
2002Much Depends on the ViewerInternational Apartment, Vienna Group
20016000 Square Foot ProjectYoung-Art, London Group
2001ClubBeaconsfield Gallery, London Group
2001Atelier SomethingSpringfield House, London Group
2001360Roundhouse, London Group
2001Fat Pete and the Bowling GreenCharlie Wright’s, London Group
2000The Open Drawing ExhibitionCheltenham & Gloucester College, Cheltenham, UK Group
2000Touché (collaboration with Peter Harris)Andrew Mummery Gallery, London Group
2000MA Creative Curating ExhibitionThomas Tchushaus, Goldsmiths College, London Group
1999Articultural FairSouthbank, London Group
1999BrainstormGoldsmiths College, London Group
1999ExitChisenhale Gallery, London Group
1998Honesty is The Best PolicyThe A Gallery, LondonGroup