The purpose of interviewing an artist is to give you a chance to hear from them directly, to hear the artist’s own voice. This interview is with Wesley Rickert, video artist.
My work is based in exploring post-modern aesthetics and certain
philosophical perspectives. As a generalist, having a large variety of
projects and disciplines to work with is a source of great personal
satisfaction. I place a high value on original thought so I direct my
energies towards experimenting with methods which I hope will discover
a new way of something. This means I often know very little about what I am doing. I want results to be a finger pointing directly at a dog reading ice-cream on a rusty lawn mower floating singing rocks.
Why did you make this piece of art?
A person is unable to remain healthy by choosing to do nothing and
because I value my health I quickly made the decision to begin working
on this film. I am voicing this absurd philosophical foundation
because my work is an extension of an absurd philosophical practice
and theoretically at least, I could have exercised endless other
options. I enjoy working with other artists and so I easily imagined a
project that required other artists. It was winter and so I planned
for a process that could be successfully handled inside my relatively
small but well heated studio. Technically it was designed as an
exercise in static tripod use and in the use of a black background.
Creatively it was an excellent opportunity for discovering any kind of
narrative, character or object hidden inside the maze of doubts that
can surround a more or less arbitrary starting point. I also wanted to
produce a substantial vehicle for presenting experimental audio
recordings. Although completely untrue, I often think of my digital
film work as a platform for my experimental audio work and the audio
work and writings of other artists that I work closely with. To put it
bluntly, I thought it was a good idea to have a dancer perform
improvised movements for my camera and that I wanted to do something
with hand puppets. I imagined that this reckless beginning would keep
me busy solving more or less unexpected problems for several months.
What do you find most difficult about working in your medium?
Exposure to visual programming early and often in life not only
establishes hard set expectations but forms limits to embracing new
conceptual models as well. If everything I have watched in life has
followed a pattern that I am more or less familiar with, something
must be very wrong, namely, “bad”, about anything that is different.
Overcoming this barrier is a big challenge.
Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas sometimes present themselves through lengthy and solitary
introspection by repeatedly asking questions until answers arrive.
Usually I don’t remember what caused the questions to be asked in the
first place. This happens before, during and after “editing”. Ordinary
dreams might be the source of some ideas but generally dreams benefit
from some level of conscious interpretation and re-direction. Art
history provides some answers. Experience and random reading provide
others. Important contributions were made to this film by Kathleen
Reichelt, as co-writer and by Christina Kozak and Dare Shapiro as
Where do you live and how does that influence your art?
I live in Toronto. This city provides a talent pool that is needed for
making many different types of films. There are organizations and
theatres that occasionally open their screens to anyone or anything
and this means it is possible to view my own work as a general member
of an assembled viewing audience. Small underground film festivals, as
well as curators and academics occasionally screen and discuss films
made by artists and this makes it possible to meet other film makers
and see new works being screened on an ongoing basis. There are also
neighbourhoods in the downtown core for cycling and walking through
while debating ideas. Torontonians have the generous habit of putting
usable but unwanted things out at the curb, which I often pick up.
Many of these objects end up playing an important role in my digital
Who will enjoy and benefit from this piece and how?
I really don’t know. I have been surprised by the people who respond
positively. They may feel, see or hear something they haven’t felt,
seen or heard before. They may relate to the content. They may like
the way it looks. It might get people thinking about things. I’m
guessing that generally people with an interest in avant-garde films
and in experimental language or in experimental narration will enjoy
Click here for the video: The Tree That Makes Me Laugh
Take a minute to visit Wesley’s work. That’s the interview. Thanks for listening, and
Have a Happy…