In the swirling nebula of the Fitzrovia Lates’ extended exhibition opening hours on the last Thursday of the month, one star shone way above the darkened galleries of February’’s contemporary art hibernation. ‘In Defiance of Being Here’ at Carroll/Fletcher is a labyrinthine journey as much as an art show, set deep among modular walls connected by polished concrete staircases that would impress even Escher. It’s a heady mix of sound, video, art and, at least on our visit, live performance.
Renaissance Man Richard T Walker has placed found rocks on Casio keyboards, to form a resonating overture to his immersive work. He makes simple neon shapes that mimic the mountain peaks of the American West, and installs them in a video sequence to light up across sections of the horizon, as he plays music next to them.
A hunter-gatherer in the wilderness of desert, the artist seeks mountain tops to match his portable peaks, a photographic shield of winter imposed on the parched landscape (see image above). Added to the synthetic sonics stored on his battery-powered tape player, he introduces the simple acoustic beats that provide counterpoint to one projection screen opposite another, where he meanders past Ocotillo cacti and widescreen badlands.
The real surprise comes, however, when an envelope addressed ‘ to whom it may concern’ is handed out at the entrance to a room where Walker performs an ongoing live performance, as he kisses the sky and disarms the viewer with a truly honest love song to the natural world.
This begins to break apart the esoteric smokescreen beloved by many artists, but despised by the very public that they should be communicating with on a basic level, and does not seek to belittle those uninitiated in the rituals of ‘me’ culture. Is this the catalyst that marks the death knell of self obsessed Brit Art personified by Emin, Gormley et al.?
A breath of fresh air is beginning to sweep through our vacuum-sealed culture, that celebrates nature and a metropolitan’s real and overdue need to commune with its raw beauty. Even Londoners need the occasional escape from concrete.
Richard T Walker: In Defiance of Being Here runs 1 March to 13 April 2013. Mon-Fri: 11am-7pm. Carroll Fletcher gallery, 56-57 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8EQ. Entrance is free.