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Art in America Reveiw: Mary Mattingly at Robert Mann Gallery

Posted By Administration, Saturday, January 04, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, January 08, 2014

House and Universe

We're probably doomed as humans if we don't start thinking in a posthuman way. -Mary Mattingly


"House and Universe," Mattingly's third solo show with Robert Mann, reflected the artist's environmental concerns in two sculptures and 15 photographs, many of which document her public projects. The photo Flock (2012), for example, features one of her floating structures. Atop a platform, two geodesic domes covered with white tarps and surrounded by containers of plants are engulfed by an expanse of sky and sea. Continent (2012) shows a barge and rafts subsumed in a murky fog; a sharp edge between the rippling waters and the solid background, among other Photoshopped aspects of the image, reveals the barren surroundings as an aesthetic frame. The unmoored vessel thus emerges as both a symbol of vulnerability and a privileged vantage point in these and several other of the show's photographs, which evince a romantic tendency eclipsed by sheer purpose and will in the artist's mobile environments. Yet, if Mattingly's intentions are resolutely political, her photographs nonetheless evoke the spiritual. Take the serene vision of escape in For a Week Without Speaking (2012), a photograph depicting the artist rowing in quietly rippling waters, her bundled possessions atop wooden shafts, in the autumnal glow of a forested bank.

Full review by Kareem Estefan in Art in America

Mattingly melds the worlds of reality and invention in her work. Research, study, and careful excecution of functional objects that could sustain life in a post-apocalyptic world are now fused into created environments; photographs result, and the work hovers in a space between believable and surreal. Still, a sense of foreshadowing can't help but enter our minds, for as Mattingly admitted herself in a recent Art:21 interview, We're probably doomed as humans if we don't start thinking in a posthuman way. The work extends in a web-like way outside the confines of the gallery or performance spaces she has used. Mattingly created a catalogue of her possessions on a website that charts their source elements; this reveals the extent of footprints that can be made by a single global habitant, and a conscientious one at that.

For more information on the artist's work and exhibition history, please visit Robert Mann Galelry

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