Anita Witek
Unforeseeable Occurrences

27 April - 26 May 2023

Austin / Desmond FINE ART
Pied Bull Yard, 68/69 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3BN


We are very excited to announce a preview of Anita Witek’s artist book, that follows her recent photographic series, Unforeseeable Occurrences. The preview will be accompanied by a selection of Witek’s photo-collages.


The book, Witek’s second artist book in ten years, was produced in a long, intense collaboration with designer Karin Holzfeind. It is published by Spectorbooks Leipzig and will include works produced in the last three years, conceived at an unprecedented time, when our lives stood still.


It is accompanied by an essay by Joseph Constable and will have a full colour insert showing the installation of The Portal at Lentos Museum, Linz.


We are pleased to offer a special edition that the artist prepared for this occasion, available exclusively from l’étrangère.


Unforeseeable Occurrences is a series of photographic works that Witek started in 2020. Beginning from the zeitgeist of isolation and confused truths, each work conveys an idiosyncratic and abstract version of this moment, while shifting between personal and collective associations. For the earlier works in this series, the artist’s starting point was a series of archival copies of PM Magazine from the 1980s, a German popular science publication that centres on questions and debates around science and technology. The retro editions that Witek collected contain speculations about tomorrow’s world, technological interventions and scientific discoveries, a series of future visions that oscillate between science-fictional pseudoscience and at times accurate depictions of what is to come. The blurring of fact and fiction embedded within the pages that Witek was holding decades later engendered for the artist a mode of speculation that is perhaps not that far away from the ways in which information is generated in our contemporary moment.


Witek has continued this series, and in 2022, she began to expand its framework, introducing colour to several works, as well as analogue photography captured outdoors in the garden of her studio, plus fragments from a wider selection of newspapers that span a multiplicity of genres and time periods. As is embedded within its title, the series has become an ongoing exercise, practice or meditation on the inevitability of randomness and chance within how we perceive our everyday surroundings.


Collecting, analysing, speculating and fragmenting; these are just some of the words that describe Witek’s artistic process. Working across photomontage, slide projection, video and site-specific installation, her work takes root from her extensive archive of print material, such as newspapers, magazines, books and posters, which she re-appropriates and re-casts through an alternative lens. Key to how this lens functions is the repeated process of erasing the main signifiers within each of the indexical images, be they people, objects, or text that allow the viewer to understand them in the intended sense. The artist therefore breaks apart the semiotic chain binding these images, subsequently cutting, reconfiguring and photographing these newly generated fragments. Her works therefore quietly resist the velocity and visual noise that characterises the easily consumable flux of images that we receive daily, asking the viewer to slow down and access a new frame of looking.


(Fragments from an essay by Joseph Constable, Anita Witek: Unforeseeable Occurrences)


We are pleased that Anita Witek’s works have been included in Phaidon’s most recent book from the VITAMIN C+ series, Collage in Contemporary Art, which will be availalbe from 27 April 2023.


Do not miss the last chance to see Anita Witek’s solo exhibition, Unforeseeable Occurrences, at Lentos Museum, Linz, Austria, that is on until 16 April 2023.