Mark Jenkins (born 1970) is an American artist who currently lives in Washington DC and makes sculptural street installations. Jenkins was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but first began experimenting with tape as a casting medium for creating sculpture in 2003 while living in Rio de Janeiro. Wrapping the tape in reverse and then resealing it, he was able to make casts of objects including himself. One of his first street projects was a series 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.
Jenkins' practice of street art is to use the "street as a stage" where his sculptures interact with the surrounding environment including passersby who unknowingly become actors. His installations often draw the attention of the police and his work has been described as whimsical, macabre, shocking and situationist. Jenkins cites Juan Muñoz, Aphex Twin and Albert as initial sources of inspiration.
In 2004 he moved back to Washington DC and in 2005 he began working with Sandra Fernandez on the Storker Project, a series in which clear casts of toy babies are installed in different cities to interact with their surrounding environment. Jenkins and Fernandez continued to create other installations using tape animals--dogs playing in litter, giraffes nibbling plastic bags from trees, and ducks swimming in gutters.
In 2006 Jenkins began the Embed Series. The tape casts were filled with newspaper and cement and dressed to create hyper realistic sculptural duplicates of himself and Fernandez. These new lifelike sculpture installations created confusion causing some passers-by to make calls to 911 which caused police and sometimes rescue units to arrive on his "stage".
In 2008 Jenkins collaborated with Greenpeace on an awareness campaign, Plight of the Polar Bears, to draw attention to the melting Arctic ice caps. Jenkins created realistic figures appearing to be homeless people but with plush polar bear heads. The installations resulted in bomb squads being deployed to destroy the works subsequently creating controversy over the regulation of public space in the post 9/11 era. Nowadays his work has sprawled across cities worldwide, making people question what is real and what is not.
Jenkins has participated in public art events Interferencia (Barcelona, 2008), BELEF (Belgrade, 2009), Dublin Contemporary 2011, Inside Out (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, 2009),Living Layers (Rome, 2012) and Les Vraisemblables (Nuit Blanche, Paris, 2014).
Indoors Jenkins has exhibited internationally in galleries and museums as well as continuing his Embed Series in public settings such as cafeterias, schools and building lobbies. Solo shows include among others Glazed Paradise at Diesel Gallery (Tokyo, 2008), Meaning is Overrated at Carmichael Gallery (Los Angeles, 2009), Terrible Horrible at Ruttkowski; 68 Gallery (Cologne, 2014), Moment of Impact at Lazarides Gallery (London, 2015), Remix at L'Arsenal (Montreal, 2016) and now BRD SHT at Danysz gallery (2018).