When Davin Watne showed us his studio, I noticed something strange. Each time something discrete caught my eye, Watne’s voice quickly grew more faint and distant. I’d look up and think, how did he get all the way over there?
Watne’s multi-room space at the Studios Inc compound is expansive, spare, and dramatically lit. He moves through it with vigor and sweeping gestures. In fact, it’s difficult to remember his studio as a coherent space without his person generously weaving information from one area to the next as he shuffles and points. The energy and unabashed interest on display appears to be drawn from the same primal source that sparks the work itself. He is, refreshingly, as interested in his work as he was when he made it—no matter when that was. Even his voice is animated by this pervasive, Watne-branded elixir.
Watne’s high-energy demeanor is honest, playful, and infectious. The nature of that infection is best understood when he discusses his daughter role’s in the studio. Aliya, a seven-year-old, is someone he seems to respect as an artist peer—someone who has a leg up on him by simply being a child. “I steal from her,” he says with earnest delight, pointing at a pink belt she tied around a table leg.
Such inspiration may be what leads to his recent adventures in “reconfiguring” retail spaces. The abstract, yet culturally loaded metaphors that are at play in these retail sculptures hints at the same exuberant, professional level of play behind any number of his activities. From creating a taxonomy of fashion ad aesthetics (he showed me stacks titled “minority”, “male object”, “sunglasses”, and combinations thereof) to cribbing abstract gestures from his favorite seven-year-old, Watne demonstrates a sincere and open-ended strain of curiosity and faith in the studio, and what is allowed to happen there.