Some Canterbury Tales
published by Four Corners Books

April 22 2014
3:00 PM

In Some Canterbury Tales, an illustrated book commissioned and published by Four Corners Books, British-performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd reappropriates 14th century author Geoffrey Chaucer’s magnum opus The Canterbury Tales. With a degree in social anthropology as well as fine arts, the artist—who recently changed her name from Spartacus Chetwynd—works across a range of mediums centered around performance art, and explores iconic cultural moments whilst staging notions of gender politics, utopia, extreme social behaviors and…lots of animals. She received a fair bit of attention with her bonkers performance piece when she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012, which involved a humorous assemblage of tree-men performers and obscure dancing, all in a highly participatory fashion. Just like in the rest of her work, a number of characteristic elements resonate in Some Canterbury Tales: confusion of genres, mythical references and amateur aspirations. The 240-page illustrated version of the Medieval stories, written in Middle English during the time of the Hundred Years’ War, features a mad collection of photocopied collages, also on display at Chetwynd’s coinciding solo exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ, London. With modern and mythological imagery, ranging from vintage erotic images to a Herculaneum-found statue of Pan god copulating with a she goat, Some Canterbury Tales makes for a good historical read, and an uneasy cackle. (Benoit Loiseau)