Thomas Witte. Vantage Point

23 Mar — 22 Apr 2017 at the Davidson Contemporary in New York, United States

Thomas Witte. Vantage Point, Exhibition view. courtesy of Davidson Contemporary
Thomas Witte. Vantage Point, Exhibition view. courtesy of Davidson Contemporary
5 APR 2017

Davidson Contemporary presents Vantage Point, a solo exhibition of work by Thomas Witte. What does it mean to observe? When we are tourists, we take in the landscape, sights, or monument in front of us. We snap a few photos for posterity and, more often than not, seldom look at them again. But this desire to create and preserve memories drives us to travel, to witness and to participate, perpetually giving us new layers of experience that shape us.

For Vantage Point, Thomas Witte uses images from found 35mm slides to create his hand-cut paper works. Witte has created two separate but connected sets of work, both of which play with our sense of perspective. In the Lookout set, Witte selected photographs that omit the actual sights, focusing instead on the people participating in the act of observation. In Protest, by focusing more on the protesters than the subject of the protest itself, Witte puts viewers in the position of sightseer or voyeur, bringing the act of protesting a historical significance that exists outside temporal and contextual constraints.

Vantage Point considers the way in which we participate and observe. There are things that exist for the express purpose of observing – platforms equipped with telescopes and man-made scenic overlooks. Protests, on the other hand, create moments that either compel us to participate or relegate us to spectators. There is a connection between the act of viewing art and viewing life; the passive act of sightseeing versus the very active and sometimes perilous act of demonstrating. This juxtaposition presents a sublime discrepancy in the way in which we, as removed art-viewers, take meaning from the images.

This is Witte’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. He lives and works in New Jersey.