Mark Stockton: Making Weight

Exhibit Dates: 
Mar 22, 2014 - Jul 20, 2014
Location: 
Beckler Family Members’ Gallery
In order to compete within a specific division, wrestlers must often shed extra pounds to “make weight.” Applying this idea of loss and gain more broadly, artist Mark Stockton interprets the idea of “making weight” as a metaphor for how people and society wrestle with conflicting desires, often achieving “greatness” while sacrificing other values. Researching such ideas for ten new graphite drawings relevant to Delaware history, Stockton sourced disparate images from the Internet. He then meticulously drew exacting reproductions of the digital imagery, from Fight Club film stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton to Tyvek suits made by DuPont to the 1968 Martin Luther King Assassination riots in Wilmington. In addition to the drawings, Stockton places two small piles, one of gun powder and one of graphite, in the gallery, alluding to humanity’s competing urge to create and destroy. Installed in a pyramid-formation on the wall, the drawings, as well as the peripheral objects on view, and the sounds of Bob Marley’s song “Sinner Man” playing softly in the background proffer a haunting and critically engaged vision of American culture.
 
Stockton is also interested in Network theory, the study of complex interacting systems, as it relates to digital culture. One application of this theory has gained significant use in military intelligence, for example, where it is employed to uncover insurgent networks of both a hierarchical and leaderless nature. In parallel fashion, Stockton produces an evocative graphic representation of disparate signs that, when viewed together, reveal something larger. The artist visualizes what he terms a “bullet lineage,” which he traces from DuPont’s supply of gun powder to arm the Union during the Civil War to the company’s present production of bullet-proof Kevlar suits to protect the U.S. Military. Ultimately, the artist creates a mysterious pictorial index of appropriated imagery, revealing capitalist contradictions and “other” narratives typically omitted from dominant American history.
 
- Maiza Hixson
Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art