t. j. wilcox

t. j. wilcox

may 26 – september 20, 2023

via a. stradella 7–4

It's not that I'm rebelling. It's that I'm just trying to find another way.

Edie Sedgwick

Galleria Raffaella Cortese is delighted to present the fourth chapter of its collaboration with T. J. Wilcox. The exhibition, which unfolds across two spaces, presents a number of recent drawings by the multidisciplinary artist centered around his latest video work. This is the first presentation of this body of work outside of the United States.

In via Stradella 4, the video Trace of Life (2022) features the artist’s renowned assemblage of several different motion-picture techniques: time-lapse cinematography, Super 8 film, live-action shots, archival footage and photographs, as well as his signature narrative method of text laid over the imagery. The work, which evokes different perceptions of time and mark-making, is split into three acts that delve into the vestiges of events that have occurred from millions of years ago to the recent past.

The first act of the film, which Wilcox realized throughout and following his experience of the pandemic in New York, is devoted to glacial erratics, large boulders that are found on the coast of Long Island. These rocks, due to their massive size, intuitively appear to be symbols of stability amidst the waves and natural elements that affect the coastline, but are instead revealed to be wandering travelers, displaced from the Arctic Circle by the movement of glaciers during the last ice age.

As often is the case in T. J. Wilcox’s practice, the second act of Trace of Life is an exploration of the life and legacy of a historical figure, Edie Sedgwick (1943–1971). The American actress and model, who rose to fame as a Warhol superstar, has been an indelible presence and had a profound impact on New York’s downtown scene, acting as a beacon of glamour and desire until her tragic death. Wilcox’s discovery that a close friend of his now resides in the same apartment where Sedgwick once lived was a revelation that triggered the artist’s investigation into a hidden trace of Sedgwick’s existence: an iconic image of her from the August 1965 issue of Vogue magazine, where she poses on an ottoman in front of a large drawing of a horse she had sketched directly on her wall.

This very photograph is the starting point for the installation of drawings in the via Stradella 7 space, Edie (2023). In these works, Wilcox crops and redacts the image, leaving only the monochrome walls of the apartment and the stallion to symbolize Edie’s presence after her tragic passing. Covering her figure in silver leaf, Sedgwick is transformed into a sylph-like vestige, accentuating the whimsical lightness of the scene while also imbuing it with the fleeting nature of memory.

In the final chapter of Trace of Life, Wilcox delves into notions of mark-making through a fleeting exploration of the boardwalks and footpaths that wind through Fire Island. Once a sanctuary for New York’s queer community and a symbol of carefree indulgence before the devastating AIDS epidemic, Fire Island still retains its slatted wooden walkways, which serve as the primary means of travel. Wilcox’s lens zooms in on these weathered boards, breathing artistic vitality into the accumulation of footprints that have graced them. Through these intangible traces, Wilcox infuses life with a palpable sense of the past, where the echoes of those who came before linger in the memory of their footfalls.


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