Richard T. Walker
the hierarchy of relevance
2010, 7′ 58″
3 February – 10 February 2016
In the hierarchy of relevance we see the artist alone in the desert in conversation with the landscape:
“He knew that his capacity to acknowledge beauty was very much limited, so he began to wonder; if each object possesses such immense beauty how could he possibly even see the landscape anymore? For the landscape is made from a series of moderately beautiful parts, each with a specific limit to its appeal so that collectively; as a whole within his frame of vision they give a sensation of awe and magnificence. If each object is too beautiful, too appealing, he thought, then surely his senses would just become completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and thus thwart his capacity for appreciation.” From the hierarchy of relevance.
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 states, “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 short-comings 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 everything failing to become something, Carroll / Fletcher, London; In accordance with things, àngels, Barcelona; the fallibility of intent, Di Rosa, Napa, USA (all 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).