For the past year, Wirz has focused on decoding oral traditions, mythologies, and legends native to Pindamonhangaba, Brazil, an area in the Paraiba Valley intimately familiar to the peripatetic Swiss-Brazilian artist. In doing so, the artist investigates how myths and legends as told and internalized by individuals and societies often become determining to the point of arriving as self-fulfilled prophecies.
The region has continually experienced massive demographic, population, cultural, political, and economic shifts as royalty, slaves, indigenous people, merchantmen, and industrialists have intersected and collided across the shifting primordial, modern, and contemporary landscapes. In his observations of these movements, Wirz emphasizes collaborations among social worlds, explorations of collectiveness shared through reverence for intuitive laughter, and the materializations of myths and legends of dying cultures and places.
Traditions can be invented or imagined, reflect a mode of mass resistance, or even be sourced from pre-modern communities as they are mechanized by the myth-making complex. The fruitful abundance of fantastic characters and magical phenomena from the Paraiba, Wirz says, are created from and passed on by a ubiquitous collective consciousness as it intersects with rich and varied histories that experienced transformative fluctuating conditions. In one sense myths are real or become real revealing an admixture of elite interests or spirited opposition from the volk.
Wirz has created sculptures and wall works for his installation that serve as a motivation for the viewer in considering the complex interplay among the real, unreal, magical, and enchanted—areas which may be perceived to be losing salience within our contemporary society, yet which are always operating under evolving symbolic manifestations. To view the works as being “anti-technological” would be inaccurate, as technology itself becomes part of the mythos sourced from dreams and imaginations, and the perceptions thereof.
In the sculptures by Wirz, found materials in nature are manipulated with artificial substances. Surfaces of tree barks are texturized with coats of latex and acrylic paint generating a moment when the abstract provides a path, and where one thing becomes another. The bark from a tree becomes an alligator or the remnants of taxidermy; limes resemble objects on fire. Imagined insects, arachnids, reptiles, crustaceans, etc. line the insides of light-boxes made from silicon coated with thick latex, and placed upon a bed of epoxy resin which results in an amber-like texture.