There’s plenty of ____ in the sea

Carl Marin


Carl Marin’s work asks us to be curious and open to surprise. At first, we see the basic structures: fish tanks simultaneously empty and full, kitsch decorations from their previous owners, and blank television screens. In this world within a world, nothing is out of view but one must navigate layers of confusion, moving through levels of screens in order to see the whole picture. Marin creates an intimate ecosystem of exchanges that unfold along a current of realness. Utilizing the online platform Kijiji, Marin sourced used fish tanks and recorded the transactions on a hidden camera. Traveling to retrieve them, Marin inserts himself into someone else’s world. This secret eye documents Marin’s interactions with each seller. The moment of exchange acts as an invitation to peer inside the person’s home, the same way we might peer into an aquarium.

The lives unfolding inside the mundane fish tanks are hard to see. Look once, and we see separate stations of red and blue water. Look twice, and we see seashells from Jamaica. Look again, and we see a miniature temple ruin. At first glance, each scene appears to be nearly the same. Peering through the weighty, transparent architecture, a searching eye is rewarded when something suddenly moves. A grouping of fish swim, almost in place, while seemingly unaware of each other. In a separate instance, a video shows Marin acquiring the tank you are now peering through. Moving around the work, everything you think you know changes. In actuality, two different realities are at play — another story is unfolding in the background. You discover that there is a reason the fish appear almost stuck — some hidden architecture — their lack of freedom palpable. A simple shift of your position reveals an alternate universe. These two realities co-mingle, waiting to be discovered. They invite you into Marin’s unique world of intersecting gazes and narrative arcs, of cause and effect, where something is constantly happening and there is always another perspective.

Looping back around on themselves, the sculptures in There’s plenty of ____ in the sea suggest a set of congruence’s between people and their inner and outer worlds. Marin shares his own position of searching, locating, and retrieving by allowing the experiences of public and private interaction to come into focus all the time. Each aquarium acts as a window into someone else’s reality; each provides multiple entry points into a maze of mental and physical barriers enticing you to follow it to its end. Marin asks you to stop and think about what you know is there and consider what you may assume is not. Look. Look. Look again.

— Barb Smith 

Carl Marin studied sculpture and painting at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia (2007), and received an MFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmondm (2013). He has been a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (2012), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Residency in New York (2014-15), and MANA Contemporary BSMT Residency in New Jersey (2016). Marin has also been the recipient of a College Art Association Professional Development Fellowship (2013), and a Percent for Art commission from the city of Philadelphia (2015). Marin has shown at FLUXspace and the ICA in Philadelphia, the Queens Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City, the Franz Kaka in Toronto and Litost in Prague.