richard wentworth, “walking sticks”

“The once mute … appears intimate and troubling … Reconfigured as art, these components own a gravitational field which draws you into their world, whatever that stilled yet heady place, in which appearances, values and sensations are the same but rearranged…”  —Michael Bracewell, ‘So Much Depends’: An Introduction to the Art of Richard Wentworth for Richard Wentworth, Tate

A curator’s confession: My heart aches for the work that is absent in this exhibition. Such is certainly true with the work of Richard Wentworth. The sincerity of every piece he presents fills me with love and makes me resent the cruel realities of curating a show. Nevertheless, the piece made available by the artist and his gallery for where is the power, is enormously satisfying in its signature matter-of-factness, absurdity and melancholy.

Thus, two black canes touchingly joined, is installed above eyelevel. In The Tears of Things, Melancholy and the Physical Object, Peter Schwenger unknowingly speaks to the “where” in where is the power as he writes of another of Wentworth’s walking stick sculptures, “Merely hooking a black cane over a glass rectangle projected near a gallery ceiling makes Walking Stick, 1987, jauntily free of any human step, into a pure and soaring line. This is a readymade, transformed merely by its position.”

Inevitably, Wentworth’s walking sticks reward the viewer who locates one of the precariously perched canes with what feels like a private exchange between a thing and its beholder, an interaction that might change the world if not for the silent agreement that it be kept a secret between the two – bringing to mind Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s claim in The Phenomenology of Perception, “It can literally be said that our senses question things and that things reply to them.”

TateShots Issue 4 – Richard Wentworth


Related Links:

Lisson Gallery

The White Review (interview)

Tate Shots Issue 4 (video)

Guardian UK

National Galleries Scotland

White Chapel Gallery

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