“It’s like in Remainder [by Tom McCarthy] where, by the end, the reenactor has become so committed to making the reenactments “real” that he decides to relocate the reenactment of a bank robbery from an abandoned warehouse to an actual bank, to what counts, in the context of the novel, as “real space”. [...] “Beautiful!”, the reenactor whispers. The fallen bodies on the bank floor look to him like “sculptures”, and when the other reenactors realize that neither the bank’s employees nor its customers knew that this was a performance, and that therefore, as one of them says, “It’s real!” the “tingling” reaches its highest level ever: it “really burst its banks now; it flowed outwards from my spine’s base and flowed all around my body . . . I was weightless . . . I felt I was being elevated”.” Excerpt from “The beauty of a social problem” by Walter Ben Michaels In “Portals”, Thomas Hitchcock (°1989, Austria) nods to the notion of simultaneity as the contemporary experience of time and space — situated somewhere between the ‘real’/analogue and the ‘virtual’/digital. Through his arrangement of sculpture-like’ photographs and found objects in the space, the artist questions the intricate nuances of our ambivalent situatedness in the world. Coming from a sculptural perspective, Hitchcock approaches the 9 photographic works developed with bent metal frames as objects rather than as photographs. Serving as the departure point of the exhibition, these works depict the ceramic door handles captured at night in the streets of Brussels during the artist’s residency at WIELS last year. Originating from the 60s and 70s in Belgium and the north of France, these door handles are historical objects within the ornamental tradition. Hitchcock’s specific treatment of the photographs, however, transforms them into almost hyper-realistic or otherworldly objects, potentially mistaken as digital collages. Titled after what could be fantasy or sci-fi novels, the objects are further removed from their historical context. They emphasise their fantastical and surrealistic elements, inviting the viewers to contemplate the idea of a world behind. Another element in Hitchcock’s worldbuilding is the cable tray sustaining LED lamps cutting across the exhibition space. While appearing reminiscent of cliché 19th century streetlamps at first glance, these lamps are found objects from the streets of Brussels, manufactured in China with outdated LED technology. Taking the ambivalence of the lamps further, Hitchcock combines them with cable trays and chains recalling the contemporary infrastructure of a digital, connected sphere, introducing another layer of temporality in material terms. As a result, the lamps simultaneously carry rudimentary elements of the virtual, serving as material metaphors for different times across the analogue and the digital. Hitchcock employs a material approach to the world and explores the interdependence of things across time and space through a sculptural lens. Hitchcock’s works are situated somewhere between this and that reality, inviting the viewers to an experience beyond the binary — the real as virtual, the analogue as digital.