For several years, Westphal worked with perceptions of natural and manmade beauty by photographing medicinal fluids and fish. For this exhibition, he widens his focus. As an avid surfer, Westphal spent the last two years learning and perfecting the art of surfboard-making. He also invented a process to adhere his signature fish photos to the surface of the boards. The results are beautiful, ready-to-use sculptures.
In conjunction, Westphal made a one-hour instructional video on `how to make a surfboard.’ Informative and funny, the video demonstrates the absurd nature of do-it-yourself programs. With over 100 steps, Westphal shows the world how he makes a surfboard and discourages others from doing the same. For a more immediate demonstration, Westphal’s surfboard-making shack will be transported to the gallery. Westphal or one of his crew will demonstrate the art of surfboard-making on Saturdays for the duration of the show. Finished surfboards will be displayed as monolithic sculptures.
In the north gallery, Westphal debuts his new body of shark fin photographs within the context of a studio installation. Unlike most photographer’s studios, Westphal’s studio is a conglomeration of diverse interests in multiple media. Small sculptures, music, self-made board games, videos and found objects abound. In the shark fin photos, Westphal strapped a wooden fin to his body and swam offshore. The resulting photographs are documentary-style shots full of simultaneous hilarity and fear. While the entire show encourages respect for the ocean, Westphal also reveals the flipside to such a close relationship with the water.