Ruth Barker




Commentary on solo show by David Stamp, Glasgow Project Room. Commissioned by the artist. 


David Stamp’s practice is a contemporary investigation into the perennial question of identity that echoes much of our awkwardness and discomfort when presented with the limits of our knowledge and experience. 


Addressing the notion of the artist’s ‘persona’ through his recurring alter-ego of ‘Wiseman’, Stamp traverses a relationship to place and understanding that illustrates the gulf between received instruction and experienced ignorance with self depreciating humour and low-toned surrealism. Wiseman painfully stumbles his way through an often violent landscape as a tragic-comic expose of the human condition: to desire knowledge just as we know we will still be defeated by its limits. 


As a character, Wiseman is routinely both personally wounded by his labours and impersonally vindicated as an (almost) genuine incarnation of the amateur explorer / hunter / naturalist who bears as much resemblance to a Victorian armchair anthropologist at large as to Reality TVs glut of ‘wilderness gurus’. In Stamp’s most recent work ‘Reach’ Wiseman faces his toughest challenge yet in a video that condenses many of the artist’s concerns into a single imagined meeting: an epic paintball showdown between Wiseman and the wilderness in the form of a giant rabbit. Who knows what the outcome might be.