Marty St. James, considered the inventor of the video portrait, has worked primarily across
performance art, video art and drawing. Exploring the physical, the electric and the pencil,
as he describes it. A time based media artist straddling modernist and post-modernist
times. His work locates itself between the narrative of meaning and the meaninglessness of
re-assemblage. A type of visual Beckett. St. James has exhibited in leading museums in
the US, Europe, Russia and Japan. His video portraits including The Swimmer are in the
National Portrait Collection, London. He is a Professor of Fine Art at the University of
6:50 Performance / video installation continuous re-cycle.
Homage is an homage to all fedora hats, including my own; my hat maker in the East End
of London whom I have been visiting for twenty four years; my step-grandfather, who
stepped out of his First World War helmet into his Fedora; Rembrandt and his hat in his
self portrait, which I visit as often, in North London; Beuys, whose hat met mine on a
number of occasions; and to none of these things.
My artistic life is about existing, ‘somewhere between the moving and the static’. The
journey has taken me from the ‘rawness’ of discovering ‘open ground’ to a period of using
and locating popular forms, to more recently trying to locate and inhabit the spaces
between points. It has taken me many years to understand and appreciate for myself that
the intelligence of ‘meaning’ is only important and useful when ‘meaningless’ is explored
with intelligence. In my mind it is the role of the artist to explore this as fervently as possible.