In No Particular Order
A Provocation by Richard Wentworth

Artist Richard Wentworth discusses surfaces and juxtaposition using photographs taken on his walks around London and elsewhere.

The following page contains a transcript of Richard Wentworth's talk and a selection of the images shown at the Salon.

In the savannah you didn’t have to look up much.

If you want to know why you get so grumpy when you bang your head, it’s because in the savannah you didn’t have to look up much.

We are progressive

You face the front

Whether you like it or not, you face the front, you’ve even been told to face the front.

Observe the behaviour of the person

There’s one easy metropolitan test which is to watch the neighbours as they leave in the morning and observe the behaviour of the person who has forgotten something, and I don’t think there’s any experience so strange as the rage that’s associated with returning.

Human Nature

Each day is an attempt to construct ourselves, and make ourselves believable at the very least to ourselves.


There’s something there that is incredibly optimistic, I’m going to make the day!

The kitchen table

The things that you say at the kitchen table are by far the most interesting things, which are of course clipped in real life.

How we read each other

I am particularly obsessed with what it is that we read in each other, and how do we do that.

The UK looks like a big sock

The UK looks like a big sock with all the money at the bottom cosying up to Europe and Antwerp.

I want to feel moderately uncomfortable

I want to feel moderately uncomfortable with moderately interesting people because where I was, was a little bit dull.

We want to like other people because we’re lonely

We conform because not only do we want to be liked, but because we want to like other people because we’re lonely. So a lot of that action takes place willy-nilly, it would be suggested that was taught, but I think it is learnt, in quite trusting structures.

The act of recognition

I have become rather obsessed with what the act of recognition is, and I think as you get older, one of the things that happens is you really value the forces of perception because if your eyes are still working and you can smell and you know that the table is that far away or that that’s there, then you know you’re kind of fit, even if everything aches, and you’re falling to pieces, you’re able to deal with certain kinds of sentients.

Babies are bombs of possibility.

Babies, are just loaded, preloaded... just bombs of possibility.

Everything you value is second or third hand.

By far the most interesting thing that happens as you mature is realising, what the content might be, how it joins up, or how you join it up. Also nearly everything you value is second or third hand.

Very badly heard Chinese Whispers

A lot of art is... Sort of very badly heard Chinese Whispers. That translates in the right hands to something which has content.

I’m going to put up a picture and I want you to think about it, I want you to tell me in a minute where it is?

What’s important, is how willful humans are

You’re all sort of right, but what I think maybe what’s important, is how willful humans are, because we don’t actually like to look and not have an answer. So we are probably answering incorrectly stuff all the time, mostly because that’s how we get through the day because we have to make these quick judgements. But it is just a bit of mineral import, as the whole city of course is, and we are in a way import, we aren’t here for very long, we’ll disperse.


A word we don’t hear anymore, invited, because everybody knows what it feels to be ex-vited but that word isn’t in the language.

We make surfaces

I have become incredibly interested in the fact that we just make surfaces, the fact the city is just made.

It’s this statement of being civil, and then underneath it is all the stuff that Le Corbusier said didn’t have to go there. I feel completely humbled when I see that, that monarchical money.
Nobody taught me this stuff
I went to funeral in Highgate and I got very depressed. I decided actually I can’t go to this funeral I'm just going to go for a long walk. And in some kind of asshole in Highgate I found that. And then I tried to interview somebody and said, “What went on here?” and she said something like, “Oh it was the man that used to own it. He was a bit crazy”. One thing you can say about living in Britain is that the fabric is so weird. It is so unbelievably argumentative and not quite bloody minded but, just strange.

It’s just so plastically gorgeous.

That’s the public edge of public housing, probably done by ‘Charlie’ who said, ‘Oh we got a funny corner, here what would we do...?’. I don’t think it came off a drawing, and it is an unbelievable piece of... it’s not a great photograph, but it’s just so plastically gorgeous. And it’s the public realm.

We think about the politics of public space

I think this is by definition is quite a civic crowd, so we think about public space, we think about the politics of public space, with a little P, what is that? You can just feel the last energy of somebody who’s as old as the Rosemary, just trying to go “I’m here”.

All the questions of who gets to have responsibility, whatever that means, for what? And how that takes place are kind of, it’s just like a big shouty question mark. There’s no criticism in what I’m saying.

This is a very ugly skylight

I can’t believe this conversation got set up.

I love the fact that somebody was in that place at that period. They’re very odd ways of... and they’re good people, bad people, noble people, to finish... being somewhere is very weird.

To see someone’s home, house, being moved is just extraordinary.

That’s someone’s identity and you know it could be yours or mine.

What a weird weird weird place...

You can’t look at the city and not go “Oh My God, we’re implicated”, you didn’t build it, you probably think you are a victim of it... But what a weird weird weird place...

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