«It’s a statement on nature, detritus, about chaos and about human hunt». William Farr’s artworks questioning on materialistic obsessions and human assumptions
Lampoon introduces William Farr
William Farr is a London-based multi-disciplinary artist exploring nature in its beauty and decay dichotomy. In his photographs-objects-sculptures – made of organic and non-organic waste materials and more recently using computer rendering and 3d printing – nature is isolated, hand-picked from the urban environment and put together by the artist. «It’s not just flowers, it’s rubbish and anything you can find on the streets. It’s a statement on nature, detritus, about chaos and about human hunt». says Farr about his artistic process. Isolating nature means reflecting upon human isolation, how we cope with it in our day-to-day life, as well as how this becomes a catalyst in our relationship with our environment. Farr wants to show the possibility for human beings, that look like they are trapped in what he calls «architectural prisons surrounded by walls», of liberation through creation and inspiration, even in such de-humanized urban environments. This need to find possibility in urban environments lead him to move from his hometown, Huddersfield, to London in search of what he calls a « learning experience»: going from the suburban landscapes and post-industrial crumbling buildings where he lived his childhood, to the city, with its modern and corporate buildings elements, and overall a more brutal sense of decaying that affects the way human-beings, «boxed in artificial environments», perceive life and relate to nature. While his artworks are made of both animate and inanimate objects, Farr doesn’t consider this dichotomy: « Inanimate objects have consciousness, that consciousness exists in the things around us, that things move and that everything is vibrating. That’s yet another human assumption. People should focus on the fundamentals of existence: they can both be valid in their simple and existential form. We are all transforming constantly. Our physical form is just a facade, a shell, and yet, once again, an assumption we level with. It’s in the now and it’s all existing today, everything that’s ever existed before and after this moment is happening simultaneously».
Exploring different media in art
To deepen these themes, Farr explored different media without committing to any of them. « I don’t give priority to the choice of the media. I use 3-D modelling, iPhone and anagogic or old film cameras, sometimes combining them. It’s not about which one I use, it doesn’t matter. Keeping material object categories, places them into human connotational values, assumptions, it’s a kind of classification system that helps us to feel». While people tend to want to label his work and define it as either photography, sculptures or installation, Farr is against any kind of definition, to be put between brackets, as if it could somehow imprison his work and take away that random aspect that’s intrinsic in his artistic experience. «People tend to say about my work that ‘it fits in a bracket’ but I don’t feel it fits into brackets at all. It’s in between brackets». Both his personality and his works are about exploration. Growing up, at first, he wanted to make art and then be a photographer, then an architect, then a fashion designer, before realizing that a design process wouldn’t fit with his artistic process at a conceptual starting point. «Every time I start a new project, I think I should include them. I have this obsession with the human form, but then it just doesn’t happen. I go instinctively towards other solid forms». Human beings, human thought and identity and the way we perceive are at the center of his research, and recently he is including them in his projects.
William Farr on beauty and the sublime
When looking at his art works, Farr wants people to be able to look past the media, the form, the color. «It’s not about being precious about aesthetic, ‘aesthetics’ alone degrades ‘meaning’. It’s not about saying this is beautiful or not». He reflects upon the concept of beauty: «beauty can save people because it gives glimpse of the sublime, of things that are outside of reality, it gives a chance to look at the world from a child-like perspective». Farr’s ability resides in taking what’s considered beautiful and what’s considered atypical and creating something by combining the two. When looking at his works of art, people ask themselves ‘why am I finding this beautiful?’ and the works will give each one of us a different answer. Farr’s ability resides precisely in taking what’s not considered beautiful or aesthetically pleasing and creating something else from it, something that is given value, aesthetic and perhaps even meaning because of the work done by the artist. When confronted with his works of art, people don’t see what ‘was’, they only see what’s in front of them.
Relationship between the public and the artworks
The relationship between his works and the public has also led Farr to question what looking at things ‘in the flesh’ means. «I see the idea of looking at a work of art in the flesh as non-essential in today’s world». He argues «A painting can be profound when looked at in the room, but that’s just the media that the artist in that particular moment chose. There is nothing less profound than for example Arthur Jafa’s Love is the message, the message is death”, which might be a short video you can easily watch at home, but not any less emotional than any other artwork». The relationship that we have with the materialistic possessions and ephemerality is something Farr has been dealing with, questioning his need to collect things and the ephemerality of it all: «I had periods where I was obsessed with collecting. Sometimes I could value myself around the things I own or the way I choose to represent myself in an idea of individual identity, but in a way, I keep in mind it’s not a real thing, it’s absurd. Everything we make, exists in our minds before it is made».
William Farr’s Cereus nights
Farr’s approach to his artworks is a complex one, in the broader sense of the word. The artist doesn’t stop at the single elements that make up the artwork or at the chosen medium for it, instead he takes into consideration all the nuances behind every decision, analyzing his approach to the artwork as well as the public’s relationship with it. His latest project, Cereus nights, is about surprising people. Here anyone can order a limited-edition box, filled with flowers, alongside with a poem which will all be delivered at home. The flowers are all hand-picked by Farr himself who sees this project as less about himself and more about surprising people. «I am often asked where I get my flowers or if I have a favorite florist. For my art practice, it’s different; I access the flowers from a wide range of places; they are more found than decided upon. I want to create a service that will bring a similar feeling into a home». Flowers thus become a sign of intimacy to which Farr wants to give form to, as if he discreetly decides to participate to the gesture. So as to say it is about flowers, too, at times.
William Farr visual artist
William Farr (b.1992) is a London-based multi-disciplinary visual artist. His work consists of creating sculputures made from wire, flowers and waste material