Interview By Shawn Mayer
Artist and UT Dallas MFA student David Witherspoon's exhibition TAKE will be coming down on the 25th of August, but before anything is removed from the main gallery, I spoke with him to get a deeper understanding of his work, of the consumption of Western society , and of donuts. Lots of giant donuts.
The name of the show is TAKE and it's apparent that consumption is an important reoccurring theme in this particular exhibition.Two separate displays containing large fabricated items (pills and donuts) are great examples of this theme, but what I find most interesting is the time-lapsed video of a pig's head being devoured by nature. The skull of that pig and several others, I should add, are also on display in the gallery. What is the significance of these heads, and how do they relate to the rest of the work?
The pig head video and associated skulls are representations of a society devouring itself. The three skulls are of differing ages: One is from a smaller less developed pig (this is the one facing the video. It is also the one from the video). The second is from a hog/pig in its prime . The third from an older hog/pig past its prime... They serve to trace the arc of a society with the two mature skulls serving as sentinels looking on as society degenerates. They face the white box wrapped in TAKE tape. The box represents societal institutions that have become dysfunctional (Banks, Government, Hospitals etc).
A quick follow up on the time-lapsed video: How long did you film it?
A little over a year. The shots range from every minute to every 10 minutes.
And I have to ask... how badly did it smell after the first few days?
Not that bad. I started it in October, so it wasn't too hot.
You've branded the show with a personalized logo. A keen eye could pick it out everywhere in the gallery. You even wore clothing embroidered with it during the opening reception. Considering mass consumption, how do you feel about marketing, and how it is used in modern society?
Part of what I was exploring here was branding(whether drug type or donut or sneaker) and how the industrial complex uses this to manipulate the individual.
The pills show up in many of the pieces. How does pharmaceutical marketing play into this? Do you have a bone (pardon the bad pun) to pick with the pharmaceutical drug industry?
Not really I think the industrial drug complex is similar to what is happening with most industries. It is becoming dehumanized. It is becoming removed from the individual. We (society/the industrial complex) have focused on developing systems to maximize finical efficiency where by the individual is viewed as a mechanistic unit of consumption and production to serve the system.
Another theme I picked up of the show was repetition. For things to be massively consumed they must be massively produced. What does it mean to be an individual when everything is copied and sold everywhere?
In addition to above. We are living in an ever more homogenized world where the individual is no longer unique. We are becoming lost in the brand.
Finally, what project are you working on now?
My work is typical. About one or two themes, either a comment on society or more personnel introspective theme. My next project is related to the later and is very much influenced by the left/right brain theory and broadly term Selfhood.
TAKE will remain in the CentralTrak main gallery until August 24.