This essay by Celia Winter-Irving describes and analyses the "Survival Boat" and "the Solstice Voyeur' s Observatory" (namely, the tent) which were works shown in Perspecta '85.
You can access other essays by Celia Winter-Irving and critiques by others on Perspecta ' 85 in the Library (accessed by the Library button below).

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Arthur  Wicks   Perspecta '85


Arthur Wicks is concerned with existing objects which develop their own history through his imposition of circumstances and events upon them.  Wicks sees himself in the context of his objects, or as one of them, his history as an artist comes out of the events he actually becomes, taking place far from studio or gallery, the context of many artist existence,  His current work contrasts with his earlier work as a performance artist in which he was engaged in adding  to the substantial and ongoing history of the natural environment.  The events which Wicks imposes on himself and his objects largely take place in public spaces, gathering people into them and thus enlarging their circumstances.  Wicks chance engagement of unspecified viewers into his events means the viewer as well as the object becomes part of the event. 

The objects which Wicks has in the gallery have had a long history of events which have taken their toll, they have gathered dust, each is a relic of past circumstances.  These objects are far from precious, they do not attract acquisition, love or cherishing,  But like most of us they required to be liked for themselves, their vulnerability to circumstances and their capacity for survival.  The gallery cannot change the nature of these objects, their presence in the space is not an event in itself, it is outside their history, will give them no meaning and is incidental to their existence.  Like sacred objects deprived of their function after ritual or ceremony the works have no life of their own.  Deprived of events they are bereft of meaning, valueless and unnecessary.  Wicks has placed the membrane of a boat in the gallery, inert, lifeless and dysfunctional, and a tent which is reduced to a mere material.  The boat develops actuality when it is removed from the gallery and rowed down a disused railway line by Wicks.  Even though it is not exercising its natural function it is being used in the manner a boat should be used.  Wicks is thus stating that human beings impose a use on objects, they become useful through use rather than through appreciation of use.

Through drawing the viewer into the event which constitute the objects existence, Wicks is encouraging lateral thinking, the challenge of assumptions about roles, function and usefulness.  The existence of the objects within the gallery is tenuously provided by documentation of past events, photographs which describe situations imposed upon them.  Through seeing this documentation imagination can be applied to these objects.  The boat, swollen to the gills appears to be straining to leave the gallery space to embark on another journey, charting the course of its own history, developing its future.  The tent is urging to billow again from the rooftop of a distant museum, to become once again an observatory in which Wicks can view the world.

Both Wicks and objects are survivors and conquerors of circumstance.  The tent, once pitched desires to move on.  The boat, once grounded and beached, desires to cull the deep waters, waiting for Charon and the murky depths of the Styx.

Celia Winter-Irving 1985
Irving Gallery
Entry to the Perspecta 85 catalogue, p140



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