Copyright © 2011 - 2017, Walker Thisted
Over the coming months and years, the practice of Theo Wit will increasingly become focused around the concept and experience of “wonder” drawn from historic precedents and contemporary sites. This wonder will grow from a new work of art in dialogue with the context in which it sits in order to engage the invisible forces of nature and culture, causing the one to stand in awe as a result. These works will be located at a specific coordinate in the world that dictates the medium and form. The choice of a coordinate will be derived from an event that is of importance to a particular site and community while remaining in dialogue with a theme or narrative that emerges in the creation of a new series of work that condenses the general characteristics and artifacts of the surrounding area. In doing so, the work will strive to show awareness of the world that lies far beyond a specific location as an entity with multiple faces stitched together. As a result, the future work of Theo Wit will remain focused on site-specific investigations, but will not remain confined to a particular region or type of site. Flights of fantasy and a desire for global expansiveness beyond the limits of a particular urban context will allow the work to achieve a new sense of openness and optimism. The result will be artworks that draw heavily on the history of art in dialogue with cities, urbanism, and dwelling in order to continue to create a body of work in multiple media as an expanded cinema centered around nature, the human body, and how they interact and provoke wonder.
Why this Practice?
I pursue these broad goals in order to engage the natural elements of the world and their underlying materiality at a fundamental level. I engage the relationship between media and how they represent the world in order to create something beyond representation. This allows the work to call attention to situations, particularly those that might go unnoticed. The work exposes the beauty, sublimity, and chance for added information and knowledge that might be missed. Art, in this context, becomes a proposition for something else, either actively or by creating an opening for the receiver to fill. In doing so, I explore the line between a real site or location and a virtual site as the focus of a given set of work. This exploration leads to the moments when the situation is carried beyond initial boundaries by participants, echoing in their memory. In the process, the work explores the geometry of these sites and how they suggest the geometry of a work while calling that geometry into question. The result allows concepts, art histories, philosophies, and knowledge bases to be directly engaged via material objects and interventions that are guided by a rigorous conceptual line of investigation and action. Complex ideas that are important to communities and epochs are made tangible and visible.
This practice exists for the community that lives in close proximity to the site that I call attention to. It is directed and derived from a neighborhood or broader but still local group of those concerned with the site and events that the works traces. In addition, this practice is addressed to a collection of those concerned with how art can draw such a community together through a particular formal and material logic. Ultimately, I would like to attract those who in time might want to invest in this formal logic in order to call broader and lasting attention to absent histories in order to spark renewed interest and development. This community would define how and to what degree this participation might exist. Such a community would eventually include collectors who want a trace or share of this process of rejuvenation.
Addressing Art History and Concepts
A primary question that I raise through this practice is the question of whether artwork is made from things that exist in the world (i.e. found objects, construction material, natural objects, etc…) to create something new or whether artwork is made from things that do not exist in the world (a line, an idea, a concept, etc…) to create something new. The answers to these questions are often guided by a particular site’s history. My intention, however, is not to add to this history, but to add to the history of art. The line of art history that I follow extends from a crisis of representation and the image. The work that results play with the relationship between image and a new object, painting and photography, clarity and abstraction, sculpture and plane, gesture and structure, spatial and temporal rhythm, stillness and motion, live projection and the result of a projection, narrative and silence, the prosaic and the poetic. While doing so, I engage questions of value and how it relates to material and, increasingly, the extent to which the work can be fabricated by other artists and artisans. The result is an investigation of the line between architecture and art, design and making, questions of where in the process “art” lies and attention is drawn.
At the same time, I am inspired by the history of artists’ experiments with utopia. In particular, I would like to draw on the work of artists who’ve used art to prop up a social experiment. Such artists include Warhol, Beuys, Godard, Smithson, Matta-Clarke, Fassbinder, Kaprow, Kluge, Basquiat, Byars, Cage, Gonzalez-Torres, Haring, Marker, Oiticica, Snow, Klein, Schlingensief, Herzog, General Idea, Allora and Calzadilla, Alÿs, Aranda and Vidokle, Banksy, Barrada, Chan, Diller and Scofidio, Eliasson, Elmgreen and Dragset, Gaba, Gates, Gonzalez-Foerster, Herzog and De Meuron, Hirschhorn, Hurtzig, Jaar, Jacir, Kabakov, Koolhaas, Marshall, Mayne, McQueen, Orozco, Pope.L, Raad, Reyes, Sehgal, Stingel,The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Tiravanija, Weiwei, Weizman, Wodiczko, Wochenklausur, Bernadette Corporation, Boltanski, Chin, Collective Action, Fraser, Gillick, Haacke, Hatoum, Höller, Haifeng, Hsieh, Ilich, Jie, Kaplický, Muller, MVRDV, The Otolith Group, Raqs Media Collective, Scher, Sekula, and Weiner.
When it comes to the fabrication of interventions and creation of work off-site, the legacy of minimalism, earth art, fluxus, the situationists, and those exploring expanded art practices are equally important. Such artists include Donnelly, Espirito Santo, Price, Tauzon, Violette, Zittel, Adlandsvik, Ahlgrimm, Amery, Amezkua, Anselemo, Appelbaum, Arias, Bader, Beal, Beckett, Beier, Bertucci, Black, Bo, Bonner, Bonvicini, Boyadjiev, Chung and Maeda, Churchouse, Consuegra, Cowan, de Cougnet, de la Cruz, de St. Croix, DeLucia, Dilworth, Einarsson, Evans, Fischer, Fontaine, Freuchen, Gender, Gerber, Geyer, Gilkerson, Gober, Grigley, Guyten, Hale, Hansdottir, Harlow, Hewitt, Hueber, Hylden, Innes, Jacob, Jensen, Joachim, Johnson, Kahrmann, Kantarovsky, Kempinas, Kretschmann, Kunz, Kuri, Kusolwong, Lamprecht and Moderegger, Lawrence, Lockhart, Lucas, Macintyre, Maire, Mao, Mayobre, Mekkelson, Meres, Nelson, Nonas, Parker-Smith, Parker, Parreno, Perfect World, Perry, Peterman, Pisano, Rappaport, Reigelman, Reus, Ross-Ho, Ruby, Schneider, Schultz, Seguin, Sietsema, Sonne, Tuerlincky, Turner, Unegi, Verkant, Vogl, E. Walker, K. Walker, Wilhelm, Williams, Wolkowicz, and Young.
The Horizon of This Practice
Ultimately, I hope to explore the possibility of working with the same concepts these artists explore through a hybrid practice of paint, still and moving photography, and sculpture while using the shift between to destabilize the authority of the cannon in order to address the crisis of representation. In the long run, I would like to explore the possibility that this can occur via an art firm that extends the scale and scope of the work. Such a firm might create schematics for the fabrication of this wonder addressed to specific investors – both in the gallery and beyond. This practice would support a new sort of urbanism that begins with a critical appraisal of the site in order to use the practice to create space that other artists and artisans might fill. In exploring such an expanded urbanism, I will continue to explore the tension between a socially engaged practice that is more curriculum centric and concerned with social capacity building and one that is more about engaging space and expanding its capacity while pointing to engrained hierarchies and methods of control.
The result might be works that are simpler, but ultimately take considerably longer and cost quite a bit more to produce. This direction would allow me to continue to explore the contrast between the fast and slow, prefabricated and handmade, in order to create things that appear to be one thing, but are something else, provoking surprise, mystery, and wonder as a result. To do so will require developing a formal material logic on specific sites through direct engagement of community and ground. It will involve creating traces in various media over prolonged periods towards a proposal that explore how diverse materials are combined and sited as a broader installation at a specific coordinate. Such an installation would support genuine wonder and encourage investment in an alternative vision of the spatial and social potential of the site and the surrounding community.