road-tripping the end of the world

Posts tagged “matt sparling

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.

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The Ballad of Randall Carter – Origin (The Once and Future King)

The Ballad of Randall Carter - Origin

The Ballad of Randall Carter – Origin (The Once and Future King), 60″x90″, 2014

First in a series of three (so far), The Ballad of Randall Carter tells the strange tale of young Charles D. Ward (pictured here), and his boyfriend Randall Carter, who mysteriously vanishes from his Jeep on a country road a cold rainy night in November. These works continue my exploration of fine detail as a means of layering multiple narratives within an image.

Some details follow:

Detail - Origin Detail 2 - Origin Detail 3 - Origin Untitled-4

This work was generously supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, to whom I am eternally grateful! Thank you!

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thanks

Two things in the mail today for which I’d like to express heartfelt thanks (in the order of which envelopes were opened):

The University Student’s Council of The University of Western Ontario has awarded me a “USC Teaching Honour Roll Certificate” for the 2011-2012 academic year, which basically means my student evaluations scored me at 90% or better across the board, which quite frankly means more to me than any paycheck. A big thanks to the USC and an especially huge thanks to my students last year, you all made the experience just incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. I’m honoured you all thought so highly of me as well.

And an enormous thank you and my heartfelt gratitude to the Ontario Arts Council, who have generously awarded me a Project Grant for 2013 that will be of tremendous benefit to my current project, the once and future king. The OAC facilitates literally hundreds of grants every year for artists working in Ontario in all stages of their careers, they are simply essential to the lifeblood of arts in Ontario, and I’m deeply honoured that they’ve chosen to support my work this year. This body of work can now go into “full gear”, and will hopefully be exhibited sometime in 2014-2015.

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And last but not least, thanks to everyone that has supported me in this work and all my endeavors, both practical and personal, over the past years, I literally wouldn’t be here without you.


new work: the dismemberment of a shoggoth (the once and future king)

The Dismemberment of a Shoggoth (The Once and Future King)

I felt a bit like I was rushing this post, but it being Halloween, it seemed appropriate.

The Dismemberment of a Shoggoth is the first work I’ve executed in a larger series, at present titled The Once and Future King. I would have liked to have had the full artist-statement on the series completed when I posted this image, but it’s still in the works, but meanwhile, here’s a snippet:

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 working-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 we are privileged to the ‘effects’ described by these events – the disappearance of a student from an abandoned Jeep, a garage where some monstrous Lovecraftian terror emerged and was summarily dispatched, a paradox of a time-travelling book – the ‘cause’ of these events seems entirely unknowable. The events themselves play across a fictional timeline, punctuated by a system of signifiers drawn from actual reality and historical reference.
Playing with the compression of time on a narrative scale, characters stand in the moment, posing, proud, 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 seemingly random events is unknowable, the certainty of their eventual impact becomes quite monstrous.

Ideally, when complete, the work will be printed around 60″x90″, and funds permitting, on big beautiful lightboxes. I have included some detail shots below to show the level of “readability” present when viewing the work in person, but I’m hesitant to post a full-resolution zoom.it version at present for a variety of reasons.

More props to the Propnomicon for being an essential resource in the creation of various bloods, goo and otherwise disgusting elements for the scene. Also thanks to my buddy Jer who made me a nice tub of gelatinous congealed grossness he whimsically referred to as “thickened water”. And, as always, my brother for posing for me, and my family for tolerating this level of insanity in their own garage.

Happy Halloween everyone!