The starting point for Wannes Goetschalckx’s (*1978, lives and works in Belgium) project was an immense poplar installed in the “Aquarium” at Casino Luxembourg, which was to be carved with his own hands into one toothpick. Since the beginning of his artist’s residency in September 2011, he has been harnessed to this colossal task.
Wannes Goetschalckx has literally measured up to the tree, carving it by hand, layer by layer, without resorting to industrial tools. This creative act highlights the reverence of the artist and the man, faced with the majestic force of nature, as much due to the physical energy used as to the investment in time.
Working in the glass and steel pavilion of the Casino Luxembourg, Wannes Goetschalckx makes use of the transparency in a specific way. Each and everyone can witness his endeavors. Although the artist is well-known for his performances, his endeavors in Luxembourg cannot be defined as such because they are not at all event-driven. He is devoted to this activity, and the sound effects of the various tools, his sweat, and tenacity are only requisits necessary for this long-term job to be a success. The “Toothpick” project is a lengthy life experience.
Giving himself and all of his time to the project during his residency, Goetschalckx inscribes his feat within a logic, which defies the classic process of an artist’s residency. This is normally divided into two equal stages: the residency in the first stage, and the exhibition in the other. Here, the residency has worked according to a principle of bilaterality: the tree consumes the artist’s time for activity, and he, for his part, is “sacrificing” the exhibition itself (until 8 January 2012) for the sake of his residency.
A trace of the artist’s passage will remain afterwards in the form of thousands of pieces of wood, which will attest to the presence of the poplar as well as somebody assiduous enough to have parcelled it out in this way. The toothpick, under its bell, is sure to evoke different feelings in each visitor. According to Wannes Goetschalckx, “Never before have I made such a small object which says so much…”. Who knows, this may also prove just as true for a good few more people.
A publication about the project with texts by Guy Rewenig and Christine Walentiny will be published at the beginning of 2012.