Dan Witz’s Dark Doings
What hookers and tigers have to do with reclaiming your awareness.
By Maria Popova
Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz has been one of the defining forces in contemporary street art.
It was Dan Witz who, back in 2003, first showed us how powerful street art could be. Each summer Dan’s projects take street art to new levels by adding elements of “surprise and delight” into the city landscape. For us, Dan Witz is the consummate street artist. He’s provocative. He’s dedicated. And most of all — he has absolutely wicked skills.” ~ Marc and Sara Schiller, Wooster Collective
Inspired by a recent visit to the Red Light District of Amsterdam, Dark Doings explores the tragic obliviousness we’ve developed to our surroundings through subtle, haunting images of human and animal faces trapped behind dirty glass windows.
I’m trying to exploit our collective tendency towards sleepwalking by inserting outrageous things right out there in plain view that are also practically invisible. My goal is to make obvious in your face art that ninety-nine percent of the people who walk by won’t notice. Eventually when they stumble upon one or find out about it I’m hoping they’ll start wondering what else they’ve been missing.”
The project embodies the true purpose and power of street art — to challenge, to compel, to jolt us out of our self-constructed comfort zones and stagnant defaults. Dark Doings is a remarkable reminder of, to quote the theme from TEDGlobal, the substance of things not seen.
See more of the installations from the series, and remember to look a little closer — in the street, and in life at large.
Editor’s Note: On a related note, I’ve explored the importance of mystery in street art in my first article for the wonderful GOOD Magazine, investigating the greatest guerrilla art mystery never solved.
Published November 5, 2009