Davidson Gallery presents If these memories were mine…, a solo exhibition of new work by Thomas Witte. For this exhibition, Witte has created four discrete bodies of work, each comprised of several individual pieces to make up one larger vision. This kaleidoscopic imagery plays off of the modern-day bombardment of photos we see on social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook while using Witte’s signature method of hand-cutting paper based on vintage 35mm slides.
Each of the three sets feature world famous monuments – among the most photographed places on Earth – from three distinct time periods. Their titles are taken from messages left by the original photographers on the slides themselves. Using his method of cutting single sheets of paper, Witte uses a traditional form of art-making to re-purpose a now-defunct technology, the 35mm slide. The slide calls on a time when the documentation and memory of travel was preserved in a physical form. Now, a simple hashtag search on Instagram yields hundreds of thousands of images instantly, showing far away places and creating new and even false memories and ideas of the locations themselves.
This approach to his art, covering three technological eras, is echoed in the source material for the three main blocks of work. The first, titled Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand timescalls on a marvel of the Ancient World, the Parthenon. The second, That’s all we are,draws on images from an Old World masterpiece, the Duomo, while the third, titled The city looked so small, uses images of a symbol of New World ingenuity and advancement, the Empire State Building.
Finally, upstairs on Davidson Gallery’s tenth floor space, Witte has created a wholly separate series of work titled They only took one vacation, featuring layered colored works of vintage pool scenes from the 1950s and 60s. This final body of work presents a new and different style of work from Witte. However, with source material from nameless, anonymous places, They only took one vacationalso ties together the other three bodies of work in the main gallery, self-consciously referencing the idea of holiday on location, overturning the modern day, Instagram-era practice of doing things or visiting places just for the photos.