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Yorkshire Sculpture Park brings structure by Aeneas Wilder crashing systematically to the floor
Moira, the three year old daughter of British artist Aeneas Wilder, plays with the wooden slats from her fathers installation 'Untitled # 155' after he kicked it down at the Yorkshire sculpture park near Barnsley, northern England. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis.

WAKEFIELD.- Yorkshire Sculpture Park presented the first major UK installation by international artist Aeneas Wilder. Wilder uses uniform lengths of wood, without fixing materials, to make freestanding and increasingly complex, awe-inspiring structures. Conceived especially for Longside Gallery, Untitled #155 commands the vast space, creating an apparently solid structure that is also extremely fragile. Wilder both references and challenges ideas about architecture by providing an enclosed, seemingly safe space for visitors to inhabit, but one which is unstable and liable to collapse. Wilder’s compositions dominate the spaces they occupy, encouraging visitors to enter and interact with the work.

After three months on exhibition at YSP, Untitled #155 was completed with the UK’s first ‘kick down’ event, a powerful act executed by the artist that brought the structure crashing systematically to the floor. This event was an unforgettable experience and also posed questions about the idea of artwork as asset or investment, inviting a revaluation of how the value of works of art are assessed. The process of recycling – of both previous artworks and materials found locally – is an important aspect of Wilder’s practice, referencing a world in constant flux. The precariousness of each construction hints at the delicate balance of man versus nature, a relationship Wilder saw tested to its limits whilst in Japan during the recent devastating earthquake.

Relating to many recognised art forms, including process and time-based art, installation and performance art, Wilder’s practice is rooted in empirical knowledge: with each installation the artist learns more through the experience of making; adjusting timing, measurements and placement with each composition. The importance of experience continues with the deconstruction of the artwork, providing an invited audience with a truly unique experience and cancelling the artwork in order for it to be reconstructed at a later date, thereby denying the commodification of his work in market terms.

Wilder’s process of building his work is meditative, with the artist working alone for days to carefully create increasingly complex and large-scale structures. Video and photography documentation of both the creation and destruction of his work is an intrinsic element of his practice; the first space in Longside Gallery contains a film documenting the construction of Untitled #155 as well as films and maquettes of previous projects, such as those completed for the Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Japan, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and other venues in Europe.

Wilder began implementing his system for creating artwork in Japan in 1998, placing one stick of wood on the ground and repeating the process until a vertical structure was created. By using the bare minimum of material within a strict framework, the artist has calculated that an infinite field of creativity is possible, for example 3,000 sticks of wood has the potential for 3,000 different compositions, limited only by time and imagination.

Born in Edinburgh in 1967 Wilder is now based in Japan, where he has exhibited extensively. Ongoing projects include the creation of a universal flag developed from research into Zen gardens, which Wilder imagines all nations could adopt, leading to a non-nationalistic approach to our identity. As well as exhibiting his own work and developing commissions, Wilder is a curator and has also written extensively on his own relief efforts following the recent earthquake in Japan.

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