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The Importance of Laughter

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William Seeto

U-8 Links Alexanderplatz  1997

MDF, timber, glass, mirror, solar film, light bulb, paint

installed 120 × 120 × 240cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of Peter Fay, 2011


About the Artwork

The experience of looking at U-8 Links Alexanderplatz is not unlike catching your own ghosted reflection in the window of a passing train, or looking down a subway platform to see a train telescoped down a tunnel. The work is a square window inserted into the museum’s wall, the back of which has been covered with reflective film that creates a mirror surface. It faces a mirror embedded deeper within on the back wall, creating a series of nesting reflections between the two surfaces that repeats endlessly. The receding images create an illusion of infinite space, which intersects with the finite physical space of the viewer and the museum. Like other artists influenced by 20th-century minimalism, Seeto responds to the architecture of the gallery and encourages the viewer to be conscious of the space around them. U-8 Links Alexanderplatz increases the viewer’s perception of their body and their senses as they stand before what seems to be an immeasurable void.

U-8 Links Alexanderplatz was originally commissioned for a private residence and is part of a series of works by Seeto studying abstraction, physical perception and sensation using fundamental elements such as light and reflection. The title refers to the Alexanderplatz train station and the U-8 train line in Berlin, a ‘ghost’ line that passed through but did not stop at East Berlin stations after the 1961 division of East and West Germany. The stations were reopened when the Berlin Wall came down in 1990. For more than 29 years the stations existed but remained unused, a ghostly apparition in the same way that Seeto’s window is a site of endless returns.

I am interested in the thingness of light and the object quality of perception. I want the object of seeing to be the object of attention.

William Seeto, 2007

William Seeto

– About the artist

Born 1951, New Guinea. Lives and works Sydney.

William Seeto’s work investigates the properties of space and light through photomedia, site-specific constructed and Ganzfeld installations and is a blend of minimalism, process art and kinaesthetic experience. Seeto is interested in the perceptual qualities of art; how it affects our senses and how it can alter our awareness of space and time. Seeto’s work is made of plain, raw and industrial materials, such as cardboard, linseed oil, Kraft paper, wood or glass. His aesthetic approach is minimal with a focus on the monochrome and geometric forms that are often repeated. In an early work, Continental Drift (1993), he stacked cardboard boxes to create a large three-dimensional sculpture – a monolith of ambitious proportions yet made from the humblest of packing materials. His interest references the European sensibility of using everyday materials as artworks, in a restrained and minimalist manner that is often site-specific and architectural. The installations are developed from the internal structure of buildings, so the characteristics of a particular space inform and shape the content and form of his work. Seeto’s installations can be disorientating or disconcerting, reflecting his early fascination with architectural manipulations of perception achieved mainly through installation in what he calls the space in between sculpture and architecture.

Seeto has exhibited in Australia and internationally since the early 1990s. His work has been shown in the 1998 Biennale of Sydney, and in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Artspace, Sydney; MCA, Sydney; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; and galleries in Poland, Germany and New York. Selected group exhibitions include Liquid Matter, Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, Berlin (2006); Kawarina Europa Projekt – Part 1 & 2, Lodz Poland & Berlin Germany (2005); No Volume, Palac Sztuki, Lviv Ukraine (2003); and Now Serving, Art In General, New York (2000). Solo exhibitions include Work In Process_NKD, Nordic Artists’ Centre, Dale Norway; Volti Subito, Fabs Gallery, Warsaw Poland (2007); Prima Volta, The Book Art Museum, Lodz Poland (2002); and Absolute Zero, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2000).

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