November 07, 2009
November 07, 2009 - December 05, 2009
In How to Blow Yourself Up, WK Interact twists and inverts the fatalism of end-of-the-world prophecies, turning destruction into a matter of free will. “If you believe the world will end in 2012 and you can’t do anything about it, maybe it’s better to blow yourself up when you feel like it,” says WK. To that end, he has turned objects of control and personal movement – skateboards and bicycles, as well as three-dimensional panels – into instruments of self-destruction, equipped with what appear to be pipe bombs and other menacing apparatuses.
In character with his oeuvre, WK captures the nonstop motion – both physical and psychic – of urbanism. In the past, he has used that kinetic graphic style to convey explosiveness, but in How to Blow Yourself Up he creates installations that burst with dimension and color. The glowing shades in his palette, however, are clearly not intended to brighten or beautify but to alert and alarm, grabbing attention the way a safety hazard sign would.
As always, WK’s work has a tactile quality, in keeping with his name. While the interactivity of his street art stems from its incorporation into its surroundings, his gallery pieces stretch toward the viewer as if to say “I’ll reach out and touch you if you reach out and touch me.” The scale of his fine art pieces also contributes to their intimacy. On the streets, his images stretch towards infinity with only sky above; indoors, there are ceilings and corners and other confines to navigate, forcing him to work smaller. Says WK, “The more I reduce it, the more it becomes like a toy, something people will want to grab and move around.”
If How to Blow Yourself Up seems like a sharp divergence from WK’s street art, it is because the artist places so much emphasis on vesting context into his work. When he uses a patch of city as his medium, he first spends time investigating the location and contemplating its dynamic before assimilating his work into it. By contrast, when he is given blank gallery walls to work with, the combined effect of his pieces is akin to a cocoon – a self-contained environment.
“Artists appropriate their surroundings,” says WK, who was born in France but has lived in New York for over 15 years. “Van Gogh had the peasants who lived in his village and the flowers in the garden outside the mental hospital where he stayed. For me, it’s New York and everything about it that surrounds me – the nonstop energy, the movement, the grit, the noise. People love to put stories on top of art, to make it about something grand, but it’s very simple. It’s about an artist and a place.”