Martine Syms

Born 1988 in Los Angeles
Lives and works in Los Angeles

Martine Syms has gained an international reputation for a practice that combines conceptual grit, humour and social commentary. With a rigorous, research-based practice across video, installation and performance, often interwoven with explorations into technique and narrative, Syms examines representations of blackness and its relationship to vernacular, feminist thought, and radical traditions.

Syms graduated with and MFA from Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, New York in 2017, following at BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions of her work have been held at Bergen Kunsthall (2021); Saint Louis Art Museum (2020); Secession, Vienna (2019); Art Institute of Chicago (2018) and Camden Arts Centre, London (2017). Syms is represented by Bridget Donahue, New York and Sadie Coles HQ, London.


A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere, 2015
two-channel video, colour, sound
24:29 mins
Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC 

Martine Sym’s two-channel video A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere (2015) forms part of an episodic series of work entitled SHE MAD, for which the artist employs the formula of sitcom television as a means of questioning representations of gender and race in American mass media and popular culture.

The film industry is a prosperous and important Californian export, with American film and television being widely consumed across the globe, propagating ideologically driven preconceptions about American life that often erases the realities of the lived experience of diverse people and communities. In A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere Syms montages found imagery from films, television and the internet, alongside her own filmed footage, to trace a history of the representation of Black Americans on screen. Through the form of a television pitch, in which the artist plays herself, A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere loosely traces the narrative of a young woman in Los Angeles, trying to make it as an artist.