BACK AND FORTH ENCOUNTERS IN UNDER THE TIRE, OVER THE ASFALT
This project proposes, in a first approach, that we realize its quality and material quality. If we look at the artist’s use of lead, for example, we will quickly realize that it is nothing more and nothing less than friction records from the contact of tires on asphalt and other terrain. Somehow, once again, that alchemical connection in the materials that Timsam Harding decides to use to elaborate his work comes to mind; we realize that lead, in everyday life, in addition to coating old pipes, has a continuous use in the world of wepons and chemistry, without forgetting also the industrial production of different products, such as the famous toy figures, belonging to another era already. But we must bear in mind that they are also used in the manufacture of vehicle batteries. I’m sorry, but I can’t help perceiving that lead as a kind of blood, which shows as a residue and a trace of the passing car, a car that shows a constant wound as it passes.
The anthropomorphic connection that Timsam makes of his vehicle reminds me of the movie Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971), a movie we saw together, by the way, a week before Timsam opened another exhibition related to passages, although not yet related to the road. Returning to Spielberg’s film, although our artist is not threatening as is the antagonist on wheels of the telefilm, it is true that there is a fundamental piece in his exhibition that connects us with this anthropomorphic character. This is the video piece 123 km/h where we can observe, through a camera fixed to one of the front wheels of his car, the journey from Timsam’s workshop to the showroom where it is exhibited. We are talking, then, of a piece where the artist speaks of a very concrete and important path for this discourse, and although the work ends up being a continuous abstraction, there is a moment that goes unnoticed by the eye of any spectator (bear in mind that the camera rotates at the speed of a wheel at 123 km/h. The fleeting moment to which I refer corresponds precisely to the frames in which the camera is released from its anchor and is thrown off the road, it is at that moment when we realize that Timsam’s piece is a self-portrait, since the camera, seconds before hitting the ground, focuses on our artist’s car. It is at this precise moment that the author refers to himself, and never better said, through his own car.
It is interesting to observe how he takes images of skid marks in black and white of the same path that the 123 km/h piece describes. Harding’s curiosity about these events is almost morbid; it does not reach the almost exorcism exercise that Andy Warhol carried out with his famous painting Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) from 1963 and other similar ones that had the same objective, to heal traumas. Timsam’s work is more about empathy and emotional connection with the trace of what happened, although in this case any trace of this type denotes a tragic ending (whatever its origin)
If we go back to looking at the materials that the artist uses in his works, we can see that the protagonists are: lead, tires rubbers and paper. It has rained a lot since Joseph Beuys presented his work Stripes from the house of the shaman (1964-1972, 1980), but I cannot help finding in it a very close relationship with what the work of Timsam Harding means for the viewer. The material concatenation that Beuys’s work presents (felt, animal skin, powdered mineral, copper, etc.) leads me to remember the dichotomy that he himself posited through the concept of Beusyan Polarity [i] ; delving into the concepts of crystalline principle (it attends to reason, it belongs to sculpture, it is cold, inorganic and complete in itself) and the concept of organic principle (it attends to intuition, in constant change, it belongs to plastic arts). Well, taking into account this concept of polarity, with the work of Timsam the same categorization can be deduced that we can do from the production of Joseph Beuys. In the case of the two artists, metal always remains between the organic and crystal principle, while paper and rubber are, indisputably, organic, but, now, where is the material that meets the concept of crystal principle? In Timsam’s work we find it in a conceptual way. What I mean with this is that it is material that, at first, is conceived as cold, inorganic and complete, such as an unused tire, but our artist assembles and works with those that already have a history, a use, they go from being an inorganic object that attends to a perfect geometric shape, to becoming an organic production that attends solely and exclusively to the artist’s intuition.
It is evident, at least in my opinion, that the use of lead as a material that registers the tire track has more to do with a ritual than with an artistic production process. If you will allow me, I think it is one of the few metals that can be understood through the organic concept of Beuysian polarity just by how Harding works it. The appearance of his lead sculptures, which are straddling an animal or vegetable appearance, speak to us of a process of daily transformation, such as melting lead, to achieve the ritual character that he raised in previous lines. Timsam bathes the tires with a material close to that used in the manufacture of vehicles. It is consistent when choosing the “balsam” that floods the rubber marks to form the positive shape of a footprint, a footprint that, in addition to talking about the road, speaks of the temporality of that material, through a back and forth in its own speech , which is born from intuition and chance, and which reaches an outcome that speaks of the unexpected moment of the accident.
Another concept that we must take into account while observing the work of Timsam Harding is that of disappearance; as Paul Virilio [ii] uses this concept, we come to the conclusion that the exercise of adding a video production to his project Under the tire, over the asfalt concludes Virilio’s approach to the disappearance of the body. All the three-dimentional work that we observe in the exhibition serves the
“here” that the French theorist raises, but the “now” we deduce from the first person view of the wheel of Timsam’s car in 123 km/h piece. The video provokes a sensation in the viewer as if they were part of the car; the noise and the constant turning of the cinematographic view that takes us to the first person view of one of the wheels. In this piece we are the body, the “here” that Virilio raises in the reading of television technologies and the cinema, we are through out towards the nothingness, we leave the path like an amputated limb that observes the place from which it comes without flinching. It is an act of self-reference through the fragment that is cut, a poetic approach towards the idea of accident, through the assimilation of the vehicle as a body.
[i] Bernárdez Sanchís (2003). Joseph Beuys Madrid: Nerea. (pp. 27-35).
[ii] Véase: Virilio, P. (2003). Estética de la desaparición. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama.