SAM PORRITT - Know Your Wake

11 February - 5 March 2022
Vernissage on Thursday 10 Feb, 6pm


Can we ever truly know our own wake?
Probably not the party thrown on our behalf when we die, but so too the waves of affect we produce in the process of living. Even the most self-contained of us cannot help displacing something of our surroundings. At best we can only fleetingly glimpse the rippling effects of our actions on things and others as they fan out behind us like wavelets issuing from the fin of a shark.

The works in the exhibition at Saint-Martin Bookshop take as their cue the simple shape of a fin/sawtooth/thorn and rhyme it in different ways, repeating it to imply direction and purpose, making it disappear then reappear to assert a sense of threat or danger. Shark fins ergonomically slice through water. Reoriented, the same shape invites resistance in becoming the tooth of a saw, designed to tear through a material fed to it. A thorn on the stem is perfectly articulated to prick a prone finger, jag in the skin, ditto the barb of a hook. 

A number of works point to the economy of means by which something small can indicate a larger lurking danger. That, from the perspective of a swimmer, a lone fin on the horizon is enough to charge an entire body of water with a certain malevolence.

Popular culture has long prescribed the shark as a panacea to feed our fears, something to fall prey to when we are out of our depth. That, or associated with the predatory instincts of aggressively competitive ‘shark tank’ capitalists. However, people who know them tell us that this is not the case, they have been miscast as villains, sharks are not vindictive. Unlike capitalism they only eat what they need. 

Viewed from another angle, might it be said we are all sharks now? Aren’t we too short sighted, self-serving creatures of habit, swimming alone in the boundless waters of technocapitalism, merely products of our environment?


Sam Porritt (b.1979 London UK)lives and works in Zürich, CH. He holds a BFA in sculpture from the Chelsea School of Art and Design (2002) and a Post Graduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools (2005).

He has been exhibited internationally at triennials, institutions, galleries and fairs including: Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, CH; Centre Culturel Suissie Paris, FR; Nidwaldner Museum, Stans, CH; Kunsthalle Zürich, CH; Museum Bellpark, Kriens, CH; 17th Tallinn Print Triennial, Tallinn, EE; South London Gallery, London, UK; DAMA 2019, Turin, IT; Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, IS; Paradise Works, Manchester, UK; VITRINE, Basel, CH; VITRINE, London, UK; INDIANA, Vevey, CH; CAN, Neuchâtel, CH; The Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; Toves, Copenhagen, DK; Q. Projects, Amsterdam, NL; Foundation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris, FR; Arcade Fine Arts, London, UK; MONA, Tasmania, AUS; SALTS, Basel CH; CIRCUIT, Lausanne, CH; c.o.m.p.o.s.i.t.e, Brussels, BE; Frutta, Rome, IT; Naming Rights, London, UK; 100 plus, Zurich, CH; MOK, Rotterdam, NL; PEER, London, UK; Anne Mosserie-Marlio Gallery, Zurich, CH.