As I walk into the gallery, a video installation starts. It's just the gallery assistant and me, alone in a dark room. The video plays. There are three screens.
Left screen: At the bottom of a valley sits singer-songwriter, Will Oldham. He stares out into the open desolate range, shifts and sighs and continues in deep meditation. The day is bright with a breeze sifting through the dense, dry, yellow grasses.
Right screen: On top of a hill sits the artist, Richard T. Walker, and he, too, considers the wide and unpopulated space, the boundless geography, with the gray sky above him, vast and everlasting as a quiver passes through the sagebrush and the reed. And then, on two rocks on a separate but connected video, playing between the two screens, the men break into song. "What are we waiting for?" they ask of the audience, of each other, themselves and the natural world.
Richard T. Walker's "I Want to Want You Like I Wanted to Want You" explores the alienation of man from nature and the desire to connect, to hook and latch onto a world where the clips and clasps are elusive. Walker insists that a meaningful interaction between man and nature is still possible He reminds us of man's enduring bonds with the natural world.
His style is minimalist, neo-expressionist in its manifestations of the desire to escape the city and reconnect to one's roots. The landscapes are stark; but, for the subjects in the video installations or the man in one of the photographs, dwarfed by the massive cliffs and waterfall and the colossal sea, the landscapes are suffused with sentiment. Walker uses song and prose to personify the natural world, displacing human doubt and fear onto a waterfall, the sea, the rocks and the cliffs. The natural world narrates the human desire to connect, acting out man's private alienation and suffering in a new kind of soliloquy.
The brambles and briar, the brush and the trees are all subject to Walker's commentary on nature's sweep and grandeur. His is a farewell to space and earth while there is still some earth and space left.
*Images, from top to bottom: "hesitant due to repeated achievement, 2008," C-type print. "untitled, 2008," archival digital print, 'tamed through the sculpture of past experience, 2008," DVD, "confident but with a slight unease regarding status, 2008," archival digital print. "what am we/you/I waiting for?, 2008," 3 channel video installation.
All works by Richard T. Walker. Images courtesy of the Artist and David Cunningham Projects.
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