the Frame: ‘Centurion’connectors, steel or aluminium tubing, 125 x 125 x 200 cm,


Some definitions

IN: The specific signification of in is situation or place with respect to surrounding, environment, encompassment, etc. It is used with verbs signifying being, resting, or moving within limits, or within circumstances or conditions of any kind conceived of as limiting, confining, or investing, either wholly or in part. In its different applications, it approaches some of the meanings of, and sometimes is interchangeable with, within, into, on, at, of, and among.

SUSPENDED: To attach to something above; to hang; as, to suspend a ball by a thread; to suspend a needle by a loadstone.

ANIMATION: The act of animating, or giving life or spirit; the state of being animate or alive.

to ANIMATE:  To give natural life to; to make alive; to quicken; as, the soul animates the body.

SUSPENDED ANIMATIONthe slowing of life processes by external means without termination. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means.

How it began…

Nouveau Nihilism had opened up the floodgates of freedom. Every limitation was self-chosen.

Martin Helms first exhibition in the So-Called gallery (which measured approximately 330 x 300 x 300 cm) was ‘In Suspended Animation 1’.

The three words were taken quite literally: ‘Animation’ referred to the back wall, which was covered in a sequence hand painted frames from an animation movie, and the suspended painting of an animal, as well as the animated communication of ‘Helisnki Handshake’.

‘Suspended’ referred to the suspension of transparent paintings freely filling the space, and the word ‘in’ meant, of course, the inside of the gallery, which was in a sense a closed box with a large shopfront window, inaccessible to the public.

The Title

“I worked with sentence fragments for some time, inspired by Let Bijkersma’s way of chosing titles for her lithographs: She would close her eyes, and I would open a book at a random page. She would then blindly scan the page with her finger, and stop at a certain word or sentence fragment. This fragment became the title, and often had an uncanny relationship with its subject matter.

(Thus were the titles chosen form ‘the encyclopedia of Transportation’: for instance ’Their Flyers did not have Wheels’.)

I had used sentence fragments for ‘What are you doing to me?’, ‘Shaken te the Bone, as the saying goes’, The Other side of…’ and now ‘In Suspended Animation’, which not only described the exhibition in So-Called gallery, but inspired it, and its follow-up series of objects.

This sentence came not from a book but from a TV series:’Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, where Twiki the robot says to Buck Rogers’ co-star Stella in its familiar southern twang:…I’ll put you in suspended animation…’

Its Formal Characteristics



click on thumbnail image to go to ‘In Suspended Animation’

or click here to go to Martin Helm Chronology Projects