of a dilemma 
stainless steel handrails and fixtures, glycerin soap, menthol mouthwash
dimensions variable
commissioned by Auckland Art Fair with support from Creative New Zealand


Experimenting with the materiality of everyday objects, Tanya Martusheff creates work that transforms our experience and view of the world. The installation of a dilemma consists of tubular steel structures dotted throughout the Fair resembling common steel handrails and pipes found in urban environments. Scrubbed of life and colour, these silent monoliths are expressive and subtle. Within these bespoke structures, Martusheff has cast soap that has been extruded from the hollow steel. Placed at random height throughout the Fair, these steel handrails and drainpipes of extruded kelly green soap speak to the American 1960s Modernist movements, Minimalism and Anti-Form, which embraced chance and other organic processes in the creation of minimalist sculptures.  

Interestingly, Martusheff’s interest in casting soap and malleable fats, along with oils and hygiene products, precedes the pandemic’s interest in hygiene and personal safety. Through this coincidence, these sculptures take on a portent quality, functioning as a metaphor for the danger of bodily contact in shared public spaces and the role of hygiene during the pandemic. In recognising this, the artist has created soap medallions—created as decorative art objects that resemble decorative soaps—for visitors to take with them.  

The artist invites you to take these ornamental medallions with you.  


“We wrap commodities in sterile plastic to prevent cross-contamination. This is a way we sever one network while continuing another. Pieces of non-biodegradable plastics, or microplastics, have been discovered to be cycling through weather systems around the globe, and will likely continue in perpetuity. Reciprocity is also practiced in nature, in the water cycle of evaporation and precipitation. What we’ve introduced into the world is being returned to us. Scientists have found microplastics in soil, air, and in drinking water.” 

Tanya Martusheff will be activating her work on Wednesday 24 February at 1-3pm and 6-8pm; Friday 26 February at 11am-1pm and 2-4pm.

Image: Tanya Martusheff, of a dilemma, installation view, 2021, commissioned for the 2021 Projects at Auckland Art Fair, image courtesy of Luke Foley-Martin and the artist

Projects Alumni