Winner of the 2015 Barclays L’Atelier: Kai Lossgott

Kai Lossgott’s video artwork, Small and Common Matters, interrogates ‘the small, everyday violences’ perpetuated by a certain mindset, and calls attention to that which we do not see.

Small and Common Matters is a 3-minute and 13-second video comprising found objects and images. ‘I stalk images… images in which you find that moment of almost falling apart, but still holding together – which I think is an emotional quality that speaks very much of our times,’ says Lossgott. These are captured using time-lapse photography, and accompanied by soundtrack that includes fragments of a lecture about dissecting a flower.

The video seeks to consider ‘the way things deteriorate or vanish over time; the small moments that you miss in the habitual blindness; and to draw your attention as a viewer, to what you might not see,’ he says.

At the heart of Lossgott’s work is the idea of ‘the hostile gaze in the landscape. Our wish to control the environment, or to organise things and to fix things that are supposedly broken, or to interfere with things that are just not the way we would like them to be… Our word for ‘environment’ comes from the Latin word environ, which means to fence in. It’s a military tactic, and it means to look around you in a very particular kind of way,’ he says. ‘…We don’t notice what’s under our feet. You walk in the street and you crush an ant, but you don’t realise that.’

Lossgott’s work is deeply critical of our innate anthropocentricism, our tendency to look at things in the world in a human-centred way, as a means for human gain – ‘how can we exploit them, what we can extract from them, how things can be useful to us, rather than valuing their intrinsic worth as life on this planet, which has given birth to us,’ he says. He critiques ‘the small, everyday violences that a particular rational mind-set that discounts the imagination, that discounts intuition, that discounts other ways of knowing, can have on the world.’

‘That way of engaging with the world – the desire to engineer out chaos, engineer out randomness, engineer out failure – is I believe, a way to reduce the richness, and the generosity, in a sense, of life on this planet’.