press release

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present its fourth one person exhibition of work by Mat Collishaw. With photographic work that features the graphic re-staging of the final days in the Nazi bunkers during the fall of the Third Reich, and video installations that construct ephemeral visions of romantic paradise, Collishaw's work continues to confront issues of moral ambiguity with seductive visual imagery. Utilizing perhaps the single most defiantly depraved moment of modern civilization as a point of departure, Collishaw presents an ambiguous, yet strikingly coherent, narrative that describes the failure of utopian ideology, and the basic vulnerability of human nature.

Collishaw has had the walls of the second gallery painted a deep shade of red, compressing the smaller space, and presents five works from the 'Burnt Almonds' series. Based upon literary documentation of the last hours and days in the underground bunkers of the Third Reich, each of the five scenes is presented as a 3-Dimensional color lightbox.Symbols of luxury such as leather furniture, diamond jewelry, champagne and cavier, are represented and reflected in deep, lush color and texture. Each image features a man and woman, post-suicide, in varying states of undress. As if the extremism of the Nazi ideology has been transferred into an explicit scene of bacchanal depravity, we are presented with scenes of material and sexual decadence. A small video projection of a whimpering German Shepherd is projected onto the surface of a bottle set in the center of this room, its cries and heavy breath the only audio accompaniment to the visual spectacle. In the main gallery, Collishaw presents three video installations that exploit and undermine notions of utopian mythology. In each, Collishaw juxtaposes an idealized image with a material object. A harpist improvises in an idyllic landscape as she is projected onto a 3-part vanity dresser. The surface of a folding, dressing screen becomes liquid and alive with images of a birds and falling water. A large hexagon structure is painted on its exterior with images of a pastoral landscape and features peep-holes on three sides. The holes allow a 3-Dimensional view into the virtual dreamscape within, where two young lovers embrace amid flowers on a riverbed. As the embrace becomes sexual, the innocence of the scene and the players is lost while the viewer is implicated as voyeur. With lasting reverberations from the 'Burnt Almonds' photographs, each work further emphasizes the irony that dreams of utopia exists solely as a construct of humanity, and will thus inevitably be spoiled by the nature of that source.

Next year, work from this exhibition will be featured in 'Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art,' The Jewish Museum, New York. Currently, Mat Collishaw is featured in Secret Victorians at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA. Last year, exhibitions included a solo at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Warsaw; Greenhouse Effect (group) Serpentine Gallery, London; and From a Distance: Approaching Landscape (group) ICA Art, Boston.


Mat Collishaw