Jules Marquis is the name of a collaborative project by Daniel Turner and Colin Snapp. As a parody of consumption, the works are formed out of extant materials,
illuminating the absurdity of the media we’re exposed to daily. Through Jules Marquis, static codifications like little league baseball games, vintage Hollywood films,
advertisements on the subway, are re-contextualized in a way that exhibits their a-historical aspects, as though they were inviolable “classics” that can neither be created
nor destroyed. In the spirit of play, Jules doesn't produce so much as she recreates the cultural mores that surround us, reciting their signifiers back to us, the audience,
with the depersonalized indifference of a teleprompter. A neo-conceptualist, she recasts the Lippardian vision of an activist art “confined to no particular style and...best
defined in terms of its functions.”
Relating to her status as a fictive entity, Jules's work explores the limits of art as fiction. The works place the unreality of spectacle at the forefront: a ritual through which
an audience adopts a certain attitude toward something. When you combine this with an openness to quotidian experience—everyday life corroded by its relation to the
spectacle and the commodity system—the works that go under her name become conceptual studies of ephemera where the momentary verges on the momentous, in such
a manner that the products of spectacle feel like stubborn participants in a logic of error, misadventure, mischance.
Rather than make work that is abstracted from experience—isolated, placed in a traditional gallery setting—Jules came into existence as a response to everyday life: to
materials and themes which neither Snapp’s nor Turner’s work could engage with directly. And yet, what Jules Marquis shares with their artistry is conscientiousness,
honesty: a picaresque confidence in the autotelic nature of an artwork. The difficulty intrinsic to the pieces that go under Jules’s name stem from the confluence of media
apparent therein. Jules is art that reflexively takes itself into account as art. She is a banner, an advertisement, a pseudonym, a stand-in. Consider The Smithsonian
Broadcast, a three-hour site-specific meditation to be broadcast live on NBC. As though supplicating the gods of network TV, a white man in black face meditates in front
of a camera. It’s like a test of the emergency broadcast system, if the thrumming that accompanied the color pattern on the screen could indicate a reflexive awareness, like
the programming of a computer coming to life. The performance glitches the representations we habitually associate with NBC and with television culture generally,
translating dominant cultural signs into farce, restructuring the whitewashing ideologies of sameness, mediation, franchise and branding that masquerade under aspects of
In this light, The Smithsonian Broadcast could be grouped with Community Sculpture Seminar and Jericho Ditch Gallery, a “site specific sculpture" which translates into a
gallery in southeast Virginia with a primarily web-based audience. Not only do all three pieces/performances continue a recurring theme of Jules—where what seems to be
the case is not what’s actually going on—but each engages a collaborative response to the atomization of consumer culture, where everyone is reduced to being a single
spectator before some monetized object. Despite the unsettlingly bare, even nihilistic tenor of these pieces, there’s a sort of comedy in effect—the shared awareness of
something too absurd to be happening, but which is actually still taking place.
Works that thematize invisibility, or the non-image, over the intensification of the visual are bound to come across as against the grain: and in fact, they are. Performances
like Good Game and Valley Forge, took the body for their subject matter—albeit in a mechanically destructive or self-repressive manner. As though born of the fact that
Jules acts as an impersonal persona, with a fictive world revealed to her through the ghost-like senses of her body, these pieces were gallery-specific performances which
dwelled on personal history in an open way. Simultaneously, every trace of personal history was denied them, due to the ephemeral nature of performance itself.
Such work withholds accessibility; but that's not the point so much as the restrictive nature of class brought to light in Good Game, and the détournement of a routine
specific to an individual’s history (brushing one's teeth: a morning ritual) in Valley Forge. Good Game demonstrated how an image could be made uninteresting through its
likeness to other images; the grinding repetitiveness of children giving each other a hand-slap and saying “good game” to each other (for two hours) symbolizing a self-
congratulatory, insular world unto itself. And the incessant, increasingly violent brushing of teeth in Valley Forge indicated the freezing point of personality; a normal
behavior become a lifeless thing (despite its semblance of purposefulness) in the cold, arctic enclosure of the white cube setting. Jules Marquis deliberately hover somewhere
between concept and realization. Consider, for example, Delta Performance JFK to LGA (2009). The project was a “performance” in which the rubric of theater had been
cast off. No curtain was ever drawn; nothing was ever concealed. Rather, all activity within the performative context took on a directly efficacious social function. A ticket
was purchased and a flight was taken from JFK to LaGuardia airport; everything was pragmatically enacted. Yet the ticket of purchase remained after the performance, the
activity of taking a flight having dissolved into a visible object, like a souvenir. Framed, the ticket became an art object, and took on a double sense. On the one hand, the
price of such a brief flight was made apparent: $493.47. On the other, the ticket indicated an invisible history, an accomplished fact whose ultimate meaning resisted closure.
Delta Performance was designed to expose the dialectic of distance and proximity within what one would otherwise think to be a continuous area. But there is a moment of
interpretation, of interrogation on the part of the viewer, which inserts him or her into the overall meaning of the piece. Jules becomes the parody of self-alienation pushed to
its extreme limit, where at any moment, the logic of consumption can be reversed. Consuming creatively, transforming mere representations into instruments of genuine
satisfaction, the Eternal Present of need-driven dependency is replaced by the discontinuous duration of authentic enjoyment. Countering the productive necrosis of capital,
a work by Jules is a chance to make art out of virtually anything, even works that violate the standards of Snapp’s and Turner’s individual practices.
Against a white-cube backdrop, pictures of this sort can become under determined, jammed by the cultural metaphors and signifiers which they do indeed indicate, but are
designedly not reducible to. Pictures that occupy the liminal space between interesting and uninteresting, artifice and art...they almost pass unnoticed. But that's exactly
what they take into account, dramatize. With their aspect of tourism, with their working within the limits of documentary photography, they anticipate the work that
Colin Snapp would later came to engage in as a solo artist. For both Snapp and Turner, this is one function of Jules Marquis: to step away from their respective practices,
to see something new they might not have been able to see otherwise.
Put to brilliant effect on a massive Times Square LED Billboard, 沒有權利的輕的皮表現 perhaps best encapsulates Jules Marquis's conceptual side, without giving way
to the hopeless endeavor of institutional critique. A site-specific installation that ostensibly functioned as an advertisement for the New Museum's Ideas City Festival, the
predominantly black-&-white video has a self-reflexive punch to it, as though it could leap off its massive screen and became an actual environment, uproariously at war
with the garish neon lighting of Times Square. Works like 沒有權利的輕的皮表現 effectively resist the standardization fed to us by agents of popular media, using
visibly the same tools as them, while indicating potential modes of existence we can otherwise realize.
Could we consider The Smithsonian Broadcast as a work of activism? Activist art (such as social practice works) eschews the gallery context to realize significant changes
directly: it creates some social effect, even visible modifications of space. The Smithsonian Broadcast, however, was contained in a gallery space (however faux); and
although it purported to be a live broadcast, it was actually never aired and exists only as a document. Still, this means that action was at the core of the piece: even if it was
only the act of contemplation. The dialectic between activism and art has to be transcended to actually engage with what Jules Marquis accomplishes. Rather than exist
outside of the gallery system, Jules takes apart the gallery from within—showing up how art becomes sterile by lacking a genuine critique of commodity culture—and
offers her audience the antithesis of spectacle and the commodity: actual dialogue and communication.