This essay written by Michael Haerdter, Director of the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien 1983 as the preface of the booklet "Berliner Notizen ... und anderes",  Arthur Wicks 1983 published by the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien 1984.

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berliner   notizen   preface   (english)


Arthur Wicks has come here from Wagga Wagga in Australia, from a harsh and enigmatic landscape, as he once said. To explore its influence on human beings and the organisation of their lives has become the origin and motor of his art. He sees him­self as Observer and Voyeur willing to uncover secrets that do not yield - the memories of the sand, the power of the moon and the. tides, the track of the sun, the possible but improbable return of Christopher Columbus .... Arthur Wicks conceives pro­jects and concepts with the aim of catching onto the universe, the earth and the nature of humans. "What is my role," he asks himself, "observer or manipulator?"

What makes him an artist is that he gives an existential dimension to his concepts by putting himself at their mercy. We see him enclosed in a spacer condemned to learn by heart fragments of texts and exposed to the curious eyes of observers (the Canberra Lesson). We see him shut out on the roof in the middle of Sydney, Berlin and Hamburg at the time of the solstice to register within twenty four hours the track of the sun and the landmarks of the surrounding cities (Solstice Project). We see him, naked as Adam, spread out across the San Andreas fault-line in California, as a buffer between the gigantic masses of huge plates (the San Andreas Project) or crucified on a timber X on a beach in New South Wales, vulnerable to the power of the tide (Against the Tide).  Arthur Wicks is Observer and Actor at the same time. He is witness and victim who demonstrates to both himself and to us, the frailty of being human.

Death and transience are always present in his art. As the Boatman in the project for the First Sculpture Triennial, is he not Charon guiding the souls into Hades? He is an adventurer on the border between our fragile certainty and the unknown around us. The X is a trademark of Arthur Wicks, with all its various connotations. I believe it also stands for the romantic aspect of his art, his striving for his own "Blue Flower" where time and space interweave with the dream of the artist. Maybe here we find a touch of German influence on his work?

For us, Arthur Wicks has brought with his global projects something of the vastness, mystery and menace of his continent into our Kunstlerhaus. His studio resembles an Alchemist's laboratory where strategies are conceived for the unequal struggle between man and the earth and stars. The Kunstlerhaus Bethanien and the Berlin Artists's Programme of the DAAD are grateful for this enriching contribution to our exchange programme with the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council.

Michael Haerdter Berlin, December 1983



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