RICHARD T. WALKER
In January 2017 on Internet stream, SmartTV app, AppleTV.
Or watch it anytime on ikono On Demand
Richard T. Walker makes videos, photographs, text works and performances that reveal a frustrated, obsessive relationship with landscape and at the same time explore the complexity of human relations. Videos and photographs show the artist alone in the centre of dramatic landscapes, occupying a position reminiscent of a classic romantic figure contemplating the infinite, awe-inspiring mysteries of an impersonal natural world. As Walker’s narratives unfold, accompanied by his own musical compositions, viewers find themselves becoming beguiled by the artist’s gentle wit and drawn into his intimate relationships. Describing his work, Walker state:
“I think, or I hope, that the viewer becomes simultaneously pushed away and pulled towards the landscape. There is a sort of redemption in the music – the idea of the Sublime is re-appropriated, re-positioned and I think the initial relationship to the Sublime becomes questioned.”
In his videos and photographs, Walker creates almost comic scenarios in which the artist apparently picks over the intricacies of his personal life in the face of an emotionally detached nature. These play off the familiar music video format, a format in which the anguishes of romance are so regularly thrashed out, to reveal the shortcomings of language to describe or articulate our response to emotional or physical landscapes.
There is a conversational directness and honesty in Walker’s work that draws the spectator into his world. His narratives take the form of diary entries, letters or imagined dialogues: communication that allows the figure in the landscape to speak straight from the heart. The matter-of-factness of his tone is in direct contrast to the grandeur of the visual material, which seduces the viewer much as the artist wishes to be seduced by his unresponsive lover.
Recent solo shows, group exhibitions and performances include contingency of an afterthought, FraenkelLAB, San Francisco, USA (2016); everything failing to become something, Carroll / Fletcher, London, UK (2015); the fallibility of intent, Di Rosa, Napa, USA (2015); the predicament of always (as it is), The Contemporary Austin, Austin, USA (2014); the predicament of always (as we are), ASU Art Museum, Tempe, USA (2014); the security of impossibility, The Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco, USA (performance) (2013); in defiance of being here, Carroll / Fletcher, London, UK (2013); let this be us, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, USA (2013); and Stage Presence, SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA (performance).
let this be us / i’ll be lost when i found you / it’s hard to face that open space / outside of all things
let this be us
let this be us was filmed in the Anza Borrego desert in Southern California and depicts the artist walking around with photographic images of the same arid, sunbaked landscape. Walker’s video underpins our disconnection to our environment by poetically exploring and deconstructing the ways in which we interact with the idea of a landscape. During the course of the video, the photographic images are propped on tripods and positioned in line with the actual landscapes like surrealist puzzle pieces. The accompanying music establishes a rhythm and pacing that is in keeping with the playful interchange between artifice and reality. The following interview explores some of the inner workings of Walker’s creative process through an extended conversation about the values attributed to landscape as an art historical genre and their present-day philosophical implications.
i’ll be lost when i find you
The artists plays guitar to six different landscapes located in the western USA. Slowly these guitar parts overlap and coalesce to form a piece of music; A meditation on the language and the operative capacity of a soundtrack - the fabricated construction of musically induced emersion. When presented with such a depth of ‘Landscape’ - related cultural references, the artist poses questions of what it means to ‘engage’ - where one may find and locate feelings associated with experiencing, exposing the complications of authenticity seeing something or being something. The artists sees the piece as a visual and musical assessment of what it is to expect and anticipate a Sublime experience and the conflicting positions of thought and emotion that are associated with the reality of experiencing.
outside of all things
The artist walks amongst boulders and rocks, upon buttes and through the bushes and cacti of the Mojave and Sonora Deserts. A cut out of an image of the peak of Mount Shasta in Northern California is strapped to his back as he holds a cassette recorder that is playing recordings of his own voice, each overlapping and harmonising with another. Images of Shasta are placed in front of small mountains in the distance. Sound and imagery overlap in myriad ways, highlighting how time and space are negotiated through perception, and how this negotiation forms the fabric of how we understand ourselves existing in a place. As the video moves forward electronic beats form an anachronistic schism whereby the posturing of time and its relationship to history collaborate with that of the beat of a drum; the timing of the cadence of memories as they mould into an assessment of the present. The image of the mountain then becomes a pulsing neon outline, as each peak in turn exists and then doesn’t, turning off and on as the artist pushes pedals with his feet. A melody is played on a keyboard as if to reach into the elusive world of comprehending and understanding; a place of thought and knowledge that exists just outside of all these things.
Courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher