Maybe we’re here

Accompanying the work of Lewk Wilmshurst

In the middle of a desert colossal neon-lit fountains incongruously spit blasé displays on the hour, every hour, fifty year-old palm trees grow thick with green, and 28oz beef steaks and buttery lobsters ooze over thousands of platters all day and all night.”

L.Wilmshurst, 2012.

Against a narrative of constant setbacks I maintain control.

There are hillsides in the Lake District dedicated to maintaining ancient stock, including a breed of sheep whose fleece is worth less than 20p, and whose meat has long since fallen out of fashion, because I say so.

We have designed a world in which the natural is unclean and savage, exotic and distant, managed, and irresistibly consumable. From shopping malls inside cavernous casinos our most selfish desires are accommodated. I amass endless credit from shelves forever stocked, in supermarkets that never close. I have accepted that the oil will never run dry, and the mango tree will continue to drop fresh, ripe, Turner sunset-coloured fruits into my lap, all year round.

We no longer need to watch the rich and famous living out our fantasies. We can stay at home on the sofa or at the dinner table and watch ordinary people instead. The fantastical and unrealistic is tantalisingly close. The screens tell me that everything is a little bit more real; a little bit more achievable. Perhaps if I watch enough other people doing it, one day it will be me on that tiny cellphone or jumbotron, doing those things to that pornstar while gambling everything I borrowed on the hope of being able to do it all again tomorrow.

Even when we lose we feel like we are winning.