Photo by Jason Nocito.

cali thornhill dewitt confronts the destruction of earth in new exhibition

We talk to the artist about 'War Song,' open this month at the V1 Gallery in Copenhagen.

by Paige Silveria
08 April 2019, 4:16pm

Photo by Jason Nocito.

This month, Los Angeles-based artist/creative Cali Thornhill DeWitt, is showcasing his latest exhibition War Song at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen. Much like his last show Global Warning, which was presented just two months ago at Mudd Guts in New York, War Song uses just the right amount of humor to confront the hypocrisy and insanity of human beings. One will inevitably leave DeWitt's show with a feeling of conflict, somewhere between laughter and despondence. i-D checked in with DeWitt to chat about the exhibition and ask a few deeper questions.

Tell me about War Song.
War Song originally had the working title "I had him when he was young and pretty," something I overheard a woman say about me one morning while I was getting coffee. I had a goal at the beginning of the process of making the show, I didn’t want to think about other people seeing the show. I wanted to get to a free place where whatever it became I was happy and without expectation. I am always grateful when there is an interest from others, but I was trying to get back to a place where that doesn’t matter. Anyway, on a personal level I achieved that. War Song is something of an exploration of my negative outlook on the worst qualities of the human race, the selfish destruction of the planet without fear of consequence. It’s a reaction to the obsession with self. It kind of started that way and I just let it continue in that direction.


How'd you initially get started with V1?
V1 is a long-standing Gallery in Copenhagen. They reached out to me in 2014 and we’ve been working together on exhibits and publications and various projects ever since. I’m not sure exactly how we initially came into contact, but we were introduced by a mutual friend and it’s been banging ever since.

Do you miss having a gallery?
Not at all. That ship has sailed for me and there is new blood rewriting the rules and making smashing events and exhibits now.

Are you especially concerned with the social/political/environmental state we've found ourselves in? Or do you think that it's a cycle, a swing of the pendulum, that is inevitable throughout time?
I'm always concerned with the environment and it's always littered with villains. Right now, we have a different landscape with a speedier delivery system for sensational idiocy, but it's always been ugly. Now it's just uglier and in our faces constantly. Just because we can see it all the time now, doesn't mean it wasn't always there.


Do you think that humans are progressing?
I don't. If basic human rights and equality for everyone is still a discussion then it's clear that the human race as a species as a whole has not progressed.

What are your thoughts on nihilism? Do you believe there's some sort of inherent, a priori meaning to life? Or do we create meaning for ourselves?
Nihilism hasn’t worked for me for over 20 years. I have some of it in me, but it’s not practical anymore. I don’t know anything about the meaning of life, but I suspect it has something to do with helping others the best you can with what you’ve got. I think if a person can get in the mindset of seeking out memorable experiences and meeting and talking to all different types of people then they’re on the right track.

Thoughts on reincarnation? I'm always afraid I'll come back as a beetle that some kid stomps on or a tree that's forever dying in someone's gray, carpeted office.
I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation, but I don’t NOT believe in it.

art show
cali thornhill dewitt