Picture of a kick-down at another gallery – but very similar to today’s event
WOW – stunning – spectacular. It was hard to think in more than single words as I watched the deafening end of Aeneas Wilder’s exhibition at the Mead gallery at Warwick Arts Centre.
Untitled #162 was a huge installation built entirely from small, identical lengths of wood in the gallery. It took the form of two rooms and a narrow corridor connecting them, several feet above head height. Wilder created this and his previous works with no fixings.
At the end of every exhibition he has a kick down – and attending it was the hottest ticket in town today, and an unforgettable sight.
Building Untitled #162 must have been painstaking, slow work, and the artist’s knowledge of what he’s doing showed too in its demolition. One almighty kick at the open door end and it went down like dominoes, all the bits of wood collapsing down on themselves, and the demolition snaking around the structure in sequence taking around a minute.
I foolishly hadn’t expected it to be so loud – though wood fallen on to a wooden floor would have that effect….this was the destruction of an artwork to be heard as well as seen. Previous kickdowns had been described as emotional affairs, and I can feel that too – after it was all down and a cloud of dust hung in the air, there was a round of applause then most people loitered, not wanting to leave it but not knowing what to do either.
Professionally unmoved was Aeneas. What is the meaning of destroying it, is it Auto-Destructive art or something else?
“The bottom line is you are proving a point, this thing is a transient thing, and you are not cheating people with bits glued together,” he said.
“What I was thinking as I was doing it was I don’t feel anything. I am just looking at some sticks falling down, I am completely detached from it. When I put that last stick on, that was the piece finished. Either it’s going to fall down, or some kid’s going to run into it, or a bag’s going to knock it. It’s not going to come out of here any other way.”
Gallery staff have nervously monitored the work, aware of the risks of it coming down before the kick-down date, and one piece mysteriously fell off one night, but otherwise it remained intact.
The pile of sticks is staying there tomorrow – then gallery staff will be collecting them up on Monday. And where is the potential artwork off to then? “A lock-up garage in Musselburgh”, said Aeneas with a smile, but its reinvention in Bologna is on the cards for next year.