Alyssa Taylor Wendt
born 1969, New York
lives in Detroit
Alyssa Taylor Wendt’s approach to art making is polyphonic and encompasses video, photography, sculpture, performance, sound, and installation. Investigating themes of architecture, mysticism, and ritual, she poses questions around interpretation and communication, teasing out faint echoes and revealing the palimpsest of our collective histories.
Inspired by Carl Jung’s writings that explore structures as symbols of the soul, Wendt’s video T M I uses the settings of abandoned buildings to navigate them as sites of inherited memory. Filmed across thirty-three abandoned public spaces in Detroit, Flint, Michigan, and Bartlett, Texas, the former stores, offices, hospitals, and nightclubs play host to a series of performers that appear as ghostly apparitions. Haunting strains of familiar songs float through decaying walls, and a tap dancer’s steps echo through crumbling hallways. Imperceptibly stitched together, the disparate spaces appear to us as one contiguous, endless space. The work is installed in Quaker Square, the former Quaker Oats factory dating from the late 1800s, that is itself haunted by the many lives and labors it has hosted. The venue becomes a natural extension of the film and a portal through the wall.
Alongside the film is her sculpture Cursorial Reciprocity. Cast in stainless steel from a WWII–era crutch and an outsize wallpaper brush, the construction evokes the hind leg of a horse and its potent implied power. The tension of the suspended animation, giving the sculpture the impression that it will spring into motion at any moment, speaks to the capacity of creative gestures to inspire movement and momentum. In a similar vein and created in response to FRONT 2022’s exploration of healing, Wendt’s installation From V to H presents a narrative progression of objects. Beginning with handcuffs, an antler, and a blade, symbolic artifacts associated with violence and oppression give way to those of healing. Composed of found, collected, and crafted objects, the installation traces a journey out of darkness and into a space of redemption and love.