press release

For the exhibition at the gallery Kai Hilgemann Stephen Wilks has invited five friends to participate in a group show. The exhibition includes a new work called "suspense" (3 black blank clocks) by french artist Saãdane Afif, two wooden benches and several collages by australian-italian artist Lucio Auri, ten short films by american artist Michael Ballou, a 7 min. dvd ("le festin") by french artist Pierre Malphettes, an interactive emotional map of Berlin by german artist Philip Horst, and finally photos, montages and sculptures by british artist Stephen Wilks.

The works presented are wry and poetic ways of looking into aspects of the cities and personal circumstances in the lives of the six artists. The exhibition has been arranged and installed by the artists.

The standstill of the image Photography satisfies curiosity. It stops time a while. Or, to quote Roland Barthes: "Photography is the absolute Particular, sovereign Coincidence, matt and dumb, the Just like that (just a photo, not The Photo), in short, the Tuché, the occasion, Concurrence, Reality, in all its inexhaustible expressions."

Stephen Wilks (*1964) Wilks' photographs seem to be rather thought up than taken, as opposed to the majority of existing photographs which were first seen and then taken. Only rarely is (an) action brought to view, although it often looks as if something has happened or is about to happen.

The photographs reveal the particular, the surprising, the striking, the disturbing and the intriguing in the ordinary. The works possess the aesthetics of the banal and attract our attention by their transformation of the commonplace into the surprising. Scenes or situations which are familiar to all of us in our daily lives and which we pass by over over again, are arrested and registered by Wilks.

The way in which reality, the city and the urban landscape enter into a dialogue with the camera is totally different from the way they speak to the eye. The eye does not see the standstill of the particularity of banality or of the ordinary. An awkward pose or a strange scene is only seen clearly through the standstill of the photograph, because it is copied and enlarged. Specific particularities which reside in the details are invisible to the eye, but become visibly present in photographs.

Wilks registers this mysterious experience of coincidence, a feature which is also an important constant in his three-dimensional oeuvre.

The distinction made by Roland Barthes between studium (the global subject, by which the spectator participates in the characters, the action, the background, etc.) and punctum (the stimulating, surprising detail, the coincidence that strikes and touches me, the spectator) is noncommittal and inevitably the trade mark of many of Stephen Wilks' photographs. But one may also justly ask oneself whether these photographs captivate the mind and the senses so because they are photographs. It seems to me that they attract attention not just because they are photographs, i.e. not so much because of the medium, but as things an sich, as dissonants.

Wilks photographs things he cannot make an makes things he cannot photograph. Still, it is clear that his three-dimensional objects always betray an intention similar to the things he records photographically. He makes photographs to see what things look like on photo and he makes objects to see in which way something can exist as an object. Several of Wilks' three-dimensional works owe their singularity to the simultaneity of different, dissimilar parts. Once combined, it becomes hard to still see them as separate. The parts, all of which belong to a different world, become objects or things which are much more (and mean much more) than the sum of their separate parts. They possess a strange visual presence, tinged with humour, and have a totally independent identity of their own.

Text by Bart Cassimann


only in german

Stephen Wilks
Saadane Afif, Lucio Auri, Michael Ballou, Philip Horst, Pierre Malphettes