Borderfield State Park; photo: David Horvitz
Horvitz's photo of Borderfield after being edited by Wikipedia moderators
On the Beach: David Horvitz
For a brief moment this Winter, a lone figure stood on the beach in photos illustrating fifty Wikipedia articles about the California coastline. His pose in each image is more or less the same: A man faces the sea. Sometimes he sits. Sometimes he stands. On Pismo Beach and Bodega Head he is captured in the center of the frame, hands in pockets, gazing towards the horizon, while in others the man is little more than a speck, dwarfed by the grandeur of the California coast. These are the kinds of images that are guaranteed a second life full of invented narratives when found in flea-markets or, as is often the case with David Horvitz’s work, drifting about on the internet.
David Horvitz’s images are meant to be found, meant to be manipulated and meant to call attention to their own circulation. When the artist embarked on a road trip from Baja to the Oregon border with a rotating carload of friends, he was less interested in documenting a road trip than in creating a cloud of visual information about place that could then be released into the internet. “One of the intentions of the project was to put these images into a pool of accessible information,” David tells me over Skype from a surfer village in Holland, “I’m basically the opposite of an artist who uses found images. Instead I make images to be found.”
David’s artwork has been described possessing “nomadic personality,” an apt moniker considering how his work moves. In some projects this movement relates to travel or the idea of travel, like in a number of work from the 2008 series If, in which an internet audience can fund trips to places like the Okinawan Island of Taketomi and Perth, Australia, the farthest point from the artist’s home in New York City. If you send him to Taketomi, David will send you sand, if Perth, photos. Other works investigate how images, objects and ideas can infiltrate physical and virtual space. For his project Drug Store Beetle, he organized original works by 27 different artists into 30 flap-bound editions. The works were donated to thirty different libraries around the globe, the idea being that each volume, like a bookworm, was a sort of invasive species.
David’s work with Wikipedia and other peer-to-peer platforms has taken on many forms, but his dalliance with inserting images in Wikipedia articles has remained an ongoing interest. He regularly uploads photos to illustrate articles on subjects, people or places that have affected him in some way. A sort of homage via insertion, David’s adds his own likeness to these entries, a persistent yet subtle reminder of our subjective relationship to information and how information is animated by the networks that inform it. A hand reaches out to touch the gravestone of a German-Jewish political theorist. A partially obscured figure stands at the Berlin memorial site for the murder of a Polish, Marxist theorist and activist.
Jesi Khadivi is a curator and art critic based in Berlin. She regularly contributes writing about art, film, architecture and pop culture to Dazed and Confused and SOMA, among many other publications. She is also the director of Golden Parachutes, a contemporary art gallery in the Kreuzberg.