Like many series, 028_02_752-786 began with found material. In this case, the material was a considerable amount of wallpaper that had been removed from a dining room that I was about to renovate. The gold silk wallpaper had an incredible quality that made it difficult for me to discard. As I contemplated what to do with the many sheets, I was inspired by the gold ground and inherent flatness of the surface to explore a series of icon paintings tied to traditional icons painting on gold surfaces. Instead, however, of choosing to create images, I favored an iconoclast approach that depicted the person via text.
There has been a great deal of speculation about how the Covid-19 Pandemic will affect art and the art world. This question is, of course, somewhat insignificant as communities around the world continue to face a dire health crisis that leaves more people dead each day. Many businesses remain closed to help fight the spread of the disease while consumer behavior has been fundamentally altered in ways that may have long-lasting effects that will take years for businesses to adjust to. As a result, the economy remains deeply depressed, unemployment remains high, and many people struggle to meet financial obligations.
This series of work reflects a turn away from events and histories, places and territories that exist in the world. In place of these subjects that have served as the focus of other works, I have chosen to explore the geometry and territory of the surface of the painting itself devoid of any external narrative. This has created an opportunity to focus strictly on what a painting can be as an autonomous entity through an explicit dialogue with the history of the medium.
The edge, center, surface, and field of the canvas are the concepts that drive the form of this series. Each is concerned with delimiting borders in a variety of manners and at different stages of the formation of the work.
The notion of a “site” has become something architects fixate upon. We yearn for a potential client to identify a site in order to begin developing intriguing concepts to help win the job. We analyze the ecology, orientation, mobility infrastructure, utilities, history, cultural traditions, habits, and broader urban context in which the site exists. In doing so, we think about the program, allowable building density, building traditions, and overall goals of the client. In some cases, we may consider the buildings that still exist on the site or that have existed on the site in the past.
Generally, the site that we are given is in a desirable location. It is a place that a group has determined is of value. This value is often directly tied to the program that the client hopes to bring to the site. Further, this value is tied to the inhabitants who will animate the program when the building is complete. The location must conform to their expectations, desires, need for security, proximity to other activities, and broader cultural tradition defining how they interact with each other and the city. If these conditions can be fulfilled by a particular location, then it is determined that the site can support the often considerable investment required to create a new structure.
Long roads running parallel create cross-sections of neighborhoods and communities, ways of building and decorating the landscape. Walking from one end to the other provides and opportunity to look at the people who are there and the materiality of the world they inhabit. It shows difference and continuity – a long history and idealized future – that can help us understand what is going on in the world.
When I was growing up in Chicago – Hyde Park – friends and I would drive these long roads and boulevards – getting high and talking about why things appeared this way, the books we were reading and the theories we thought they contained. The long meditative journey provided an escape from what we were supposed to be doing and a bridge both to the city and the future we imagined that we might inhabit in that or some other city. After returning to Chicago – having lived in Ithaca, Paris, Rome, and New York, learning about so many other road types and how they held the city together – I wanted to direct a more critical eye to these roads up and down which I had passed so many time – most likely, by car rather than on foot.
By choosing to walk Western Ave – a road largely intended to move people in cars rather than foster a vibrant street life – I was at once drawing upon the legacy of the Surrealist derive as well as the work of both the Situationists and earth artists in my use of the walk as medium that can hold something to be offered up later for inspection by a broader public. As with those in Paris fascinated by the Zone where the city became the country, I was also looking at a line of demarcation.
The meaning and significance of this line is, however, far from clear. It is changing as new investment pours into the city and those who once called this landscape their home are forced to find another place for shelter. This ambiguity can be seen as one walks north along Western and in the role that it plays in marking a line of gentrification between east and west. In many ways, the series of photographs is just the beginning for an ongoing process of documenting this blocks and expanding farther north and south.
Those who inhabit this moment make the future via the present materials. This formation will be guided by negotiating the difference between what we think of as the world and how we see the horizon before us as an individual. As this negotiation occurs, a map is drawn, a new world formed. I explore how power and energy have informed the image of the world, how I inhabit it, and how this inhabitation defines a perspective guiding what we create in the future.
Walker is also the Director of External and Public Affairs as well as Business Development for FGP Atelier - an architecture firm founded by Francisco Gonzalez Pulido in the Fall of 2017. In addition to pursuing new business, Walker directs the creation of new proposals and contracts, competitions, marketing, PR, exhibitions, publications, lectures, and educational efforts. The Atelier recently completed a 20,000 seat baseball stadium in Mexico City and the Land Rover Regional Offices Shanghai (85,000 M2 office and retail complex). We are currently working on a 320 M Tall tower under construction in Guangzhou, a 5,000,000 M SQFT financial center under construction in Shanghai, a 240,000 M2 mixed used development under construction in Shenzhen, the Felipe Angeles Airport at Santa Lucia that will serve Mexico City and 24 million passengers in the first phase and 85 million in the ultimate phase, a 400 M Tower in Nanjing, and a mixed used development in Shanghai among other projects.