July 7–August 22
Oakland-based artist David Wilson has been making unsanctioned installations in Bay Area groves and woods, as well as related gatherings incorporating art, music, film, and performance. For a special crossover project between the museum’s MATRIX and L@TE programs, he will be in residence during July and August, occupying Gallery B with his site-specific installations, and programming a series of Friday-night performances in harmony with his interventions. Throughout these months, Wilson will be building temporary architectures, setting up a drawing studio full of artifacts and specimens, and making unique visual gestures to highlight performances and participatory activities, recording them all in an ephemeral publication whose parts can be assembled over time, through each event.
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas: Can you talk a little about the private projects that have fed into this public project?
David Wilson: Generally, I have let my drawing practice lead me into the world, exploring places out in the hills, finding the secret nooks of this area. The initial pulses of attraction that hold me in a place begin a relationship; first with sitting and drawing, and then imagining ways of sharing these places and the experience that I’ve had in being there. The gatherings that I’ve organized come forth from an effort in knowing a place. I’m excited about letting the context spark something that would make a performance feel more integrated and people feel more together. So it’s that moment of shifting focus from being inspired by a place, by its qualities of beauty, to feeling inspired again by the idea of sharing that experience with others. You realize that this is a way of having a spiritual experience, of accessing that if there’s not another venue to do so. With the fort project, which became a memorial to my father, I was thinking about ways that I wanted to make a very specific personal moment accessible in a broader way, so that it was not about one person’s loss but about the feeling of memorial as each person might identify it. The kind of silence that people shared at the fort, listening to these very quiet or distant sounds, was incredibly moving and stirred the ways that people answered to that kind of participation.
ET: We have an interesting architectural situation here for this kind of work; there is a relationship to nature, with some visual access through the windows, and the space soars monumentally with an interesting pattern of circumnavigation.
DW: I’ve admired the building for a long time, the way you have vantage points across and through the great openness. It’s funny to go outside and into these natural places and playfully discover feelings of architecture and interior, and now to be immersed in such a monumental orchestration of space. I love it. So at the museum it’s a chance to think of the building as the empty grove, focusing on its unique spatial and acoustic qualities, and to respond with the details, textures, and actions that perhaps can heighten the awareness and involvement with those elements.
Inside I’m building a wave of wood, emerging from the corner by the ramp up toward the central, cantilevered galleries above. That feeling of canopy is one that I really like; the feeling of being held by a structure, letting the wood steer you inward. Outside on the terrace there will be a mirroring arch structure against the window, built with branches collected from the surrounding sites that I return to again and again, places that I have organized gatherings and done my time going deep. Over the course of the show, I’ll be working on drawings and installation details that will correspond to and support the series of performances happening within the space.
ET: You’ve talked a little bit about how important drawing is to you as an experience for you but also as a record. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how drawing will figure into the installation.
DW: I’ll be making drawings as I circulate through the places where I’m collecting materials for these structures. I’ll also be creating drawings in the museum of the collection of artifacts that surround my little journeys.
ET: It’s funny because “gather” is the verb that keeps coming up in all ways; gathering in terms of the materials for building, or the collections for drawing, and gathering people together, and gathering in this final step of preserving or holding the ephemeral through a collection of objects, which I think is interesting.
DW: It’s my favorite thing to do.
L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA with David Wilson
Friday-night programming continues this summer. Follow artist David Wilson’s progress on site-specific installations in Gallery B while becoming immersed in a series of four evenings programmed in conjunction with his work. Ambient performances open each night at 6 p.m.; main performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; galleries will remain open until 9 p.m.
Scheduled L@TE Events:
July 9: SUN Ceremony
July 23: Grouper Presents SLEEP
July 30: Gamelan Sekar Jaya
August 13: Jamie Stewart; Max Goldberg