Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibitions The Tomb at the Soho gallery and In Search of at the Chelsea gallery. This is Matthew Day Jackson’s second one-person show with the Peter Blum Gallery.
At the Soho gallery, Jackson will present an installation entitled The Tomb—a large-scale work derived from the Tomb of Philippe Pot. Attributed to Antoine LeMoiturier, in the collection of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Tomb of Philippe Pot is considered one of the masterpieces of the Burgundian style of the late 15th century. Jackson replaces the eight hooded monks who carry Pot’s effigy with astronauts that are rendered from scraps of wood and plastic. They are then compressed into a block and cut with a CNC (computer numerical control) process. The astronauts shoulder a steel and glass box that holds a skeletal structure based upon Jackson’s own body. The hands and feet are cast from either Jackson’s own extremities or handles from tools. Other elements of the skeleton incorporate biomedical prototypes, various industrial materials, and found wood. Viewed through a one-way mirror, which allows the viewer to simultaneously see one’s own reflection and the effigy’s contents, Jackson’s skeleton provides both autobiographical reference and explores the interconnectivity of disparate forms and narratives. The Tomb can also be seen as Jackson’s exploration of the “Horriful”—his belief that everything one does has the potential to evoke both beauty and horror at the same time. For Jackson, the allusion to death is not a “Memento Mori,” but a claim to “Carpe Diem.”
At the Chelsea gallery, In Search of is comprised of 5 new wall-based pieces and 2 sculptural works. At the center of the exhibition is the 30-minute video entitled In Search of, which functions as the show’s narrative thread. The video is based upon the late 1970s television series In Search of hosted by Leonard Nimoy, where each episode was devoted to investigating mysterious and paranormal phenomena. Jackson’s film, divided into three parts, examines different forms of anthropomorphism. The first part looks at how man conceives life as viewed from outer space; the second part examines the literal and metaphoric aspects of artistic journeys; and the final part investigates the rise and fall of civilizations and how the past is communicated through objects.
The themes in the film In Search of are found throughout the exhibition. The large-scale Barnstorming the Moon is based on the June 6, 1969 cover of Life magazine and connects the image of the space traveler with that of the artist, suggesting that belief enables both to move beyond their physical and mental limitations. August 6, 1945 refers to the date Hiroshima was leveled by the first atomic bomb. The allusion to Hiroshima’s destruction is juxtaposed with an aerial view of Hamburg, itself destroyed by fire bombing from Allied planes. Both Barnstorming the Moon and August 6, 1945 explore how technological developments done for the advancement of human society can easily become complicit in the hunger for conquest and power as well as the destruction of human life. In Study Collection VI, an enormous stainless steel shelf filled with objects (some of which are featured in the film In Search of), Jackson counters the assumption that events and historical narratives progress in a linear fashion by putting disparate elements on an equal footing. In Jackson’s art, history is not cosigned to the past but exists in and alongside the present.