Mark Wallinger Checkmate! Analysis

Checkmate! SITE: 10000000000000000

Wallinger’s SITE: 10000000000000000 consists of thousands of differently shaped stones placed individually on the black and white squares (65,536 in specific). These are placed on an extended chessboard that extends to the main floor area of the room in which they’re exhibited. Though the artwork is quite self-explanatory in its appearance being rocks placed on a large chessboard, it is not very clear what the artwork is directly intending to communicate to the viewer. There is no explicit meaning that is being spoon-fed to the viewer. However, the absurdity of the artwork leaves room to question and debate the piece’s overall meaning. The work’s choice of materials and repetitive elements makes the work consistent and creates its own specific visual language. Using notable and recognisable elements the viewer can begin drawing connotations from the work. The use of a ‘chessboard’ could be symbolic of ‘playing a game’ or could be referring to the symbolism of ‘black and white. The stones used could also be referring to the natural environment or to the shore of a beach. Combing both a manmade pattern/ game and a natural element together creates unusual imagery that evokes a response in a viewer that is almost familiar but is still on the cusp of being at unease. Far away the piece looks almost like a beach but coming closer to the artwork, the piece unveils itself to be manmade, intentional, and methodical – not reminiscent of the natural environment. This suggests the piece could be commenting on the contrasts between the natural environment and the manmade world and how there is a certain unease when it comes to controlling nature or putting nature in a confined and controlled environment. This could link to environmental issues in society, alluding to how humans have tried to disturb nature’s natural course by using Earth’s resources.

All images used belong to the respective artists mentioned above.

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