road-tripping the end of the world

Posts tagged “exhibition

charles latham: safe / unsafe

Charles Latham - philia / worst nightmare / the predator / 2013

Charles Latham – philia / worst nightmare / the predator / 2013

I’m honoured to announce the opening of an exhibition of Charles Latham’s recent photographic work, for which I was curator, at Landmark Arts in Lubbock, TX, as part of “Serial Experiments in Artist-Curated Micro Exhibitions“, organized by my friend and colleague Jason Derouin. Below is the curatorial statement for the exhibition:

Charles Latham: safe / unsafe

Curatorial Statement
Matt Sparling, February 2014

A friend once admitted to owning a mass collection of footage of marching bands on VHS tapes. Charles Latham would seem to collect nylon sportswear and restraining devices.

The reverence with which both collections were displayed, a particular order, a neatness, a location of purpose and inscrutable significance, suggests at rituals defined by two intentions; here the objects are held aloft, revered, enshrined, displayed with pride and admiration. They are also there placed to control, to contain and symbolically restrain something that, for the collector, exists as both ordinary and volatile at the same time, a thing so precariously linked to their identity that it simultaneously defines, keeps safe, and violently threatens their fundamental sense of self.

It is here that this border of the abject is demarcated, where the fetish object holds singular, unique power over its possessor and possessed.

Latham’s work would seem to seek to mediate this borderline for us, presenting these nylon windbreakers, vinyl records and restraining devices as neutral, displayed, arranged, collected, but also activated, worn, engaged, given life and identity and a sinister sense of hazard.

The ambiguous safety of these objects and their potential volatile nature is further complicated by the artist’s inclusion of self-portrait and self-history, a personal narrative that both renders vulnerable the artist himself, and attempts to pry at a sympathetic wound in his audience.

Latham therein sits enthroned, crowned with bull horns, garbed in royal emerald, flanked by the jewels and restraints of his station, surrounded by his court of sexually-charged anonymity, beings whose identity is obliterated by the very clothing and trappings that define them.

We, as viewers, find ourselves invited guests, invasive voyeurs, and sympathetic victims.

Far from lacking a sense of humour,  it is this laughing apocalypse of sorts that renders these works and their objects seemingly inert, safe,  and undoubtedly that much more dangerous.

The exhibition runs from Feb 10th to  Feb 23rd, 2014. More information is available here: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ART/SOA/nav/landmark/exhibitsschedule/micro_exhibits/micro_exhibits.php

If you are anywhere near Texas during that period I encourage you to check out the exhibition, as well as the other shows int he series, Latham’s new work is as remarkable and challenging as it is beautiful and disturbing.

Advertisements

the once and future king: prologue

The exhibition proposals are finally going out for this body of work. I seem to function at a snail’s pace these days in developing work, but it actually feels like all the pre-production conceptual crap is up to snuff and I know what I’m going to do. The first work is all but finished, and can be seen in a previous post: https://mattsparling.com/2011/10/31/new-work-the-dismemberment-of-a-shoggoth-the-once-and-future-king/

This is the current state of the “artist statment” for this initial group of works, to which I’m referring as the “Prologue”:

The Once and Future King (Prologue)

Referencing T.H. White’s portrayal of Merlin as a being who experiences time backwards to normal reality, “The Once And Future King” serves as makeshift-title for a large body of work documenting a series of strange, seemingly unconnected events whose causal mechanisms exist outside of normal time and space. While privileged to the ‘effects’ described by these images – the disappearance of a student from an abandoned Jeep, the gruesome aftermath of a monstrous invasion of a residential garage, a paradox of a time-travelling book –  the ‘causes’ of these events seem entirely unknowable to us.

Playing with the compression of time on a narrative scale, the characters stand in the moment, posing, perhaps with pride, as if in foreknowledge of the future-historical significance of their present context, a hypothetical “spark event” for a cataclysm yet to come.  The prophetic mode here references, inversely, the truism “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”; within these narratives, history has already predetermined a far-flung future disaster, and while the immediate causal mechanisms of these bizarre, random events is unknowable, the certainty of their eventual impact becomes quite monstrous.

Staged in lost and unknown locations scattered across rural and suburban Southern Ontario, these stories occupy vague landscapes situated in a nether-space disconnected from recognizable geography, constantly familiar, yet existing anywhere, at any time, and nowhere simultaneously.

I’m starting some of the preliminary technical work (ie; camera angles, feasibility tests, set construction) for a work called “The Impact (Reunion: Prologue)”, although the repetition of “prologue” there bothers me and there’s a third title to a group of works called “The Ballad of Randall Carter” … and then another grouping simply called “Reunion” …. all grouped under The Once and Future King … I am disorganized.

Anyhow, here’s the narrative fragment that’ll accompany the work and serve as a ‘public’ description, and it explains why soon (well, weather permitting), this blog will be inundated with me taking photos of my Jeep from odd angles filled with books:

The Impact (Reunion: Prologue)

On a dark rural road in Ontario, the wine-red Jeep of one Randall Carter is found abandoned, door open, several large stacks of books balanced on the seats. Carefully folded on top of the books was found a military uniform, embroidered with Carter’s name and a series of unidentified insignia. The Jeep was discovered by Carter’s boyfriend, Charles D. Ward, after Carter’s protracted absence prompted Ward to retrace the route to Carter’s residence. Ward claims he found the Jeep by following the sound of music on the radio. The combined weight of the books was found to be 167 lbs, which coincidentally was approximately Carter’s own weight prior to his disappearance.

 

Abject apologies for the lack of updates here. Also, if my former students of this past semester would like to lend me permission to post some of their work here, drop me an email, you guys were great.