M+B is pleased to present Four False Starts, Matthew Porter’s fourth solo
exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will run from January 23, 2016
through March 12, 2016, with an opening reception on Saturday, January 23
from 6 to 8 pm.
Installed in the gallery are sixteen framed photographs—four sets of four pictures. Each of the sets is composed of work from a different series: a
continued exploration of multiple exposure still lifes, black and white still lifes made in Porter’s father’s sculpture studio in Maine, a model wearing a dazzle camouflage suit that Porter commissioned, and pictures made at the fabrication facility Polich Tallix in upstate New York. Together, they form a mosaic of inquiry and interest, overlapping at times, and bonded by their pictorial similarities.
The exhibition takes its title from an artist profile written by Janet Malcolm, Forty-one False Starts. Each of the “starts” serves as an introduction, rebooting every few paragraphs, yet the stuttered essay coheres into a full portrait of an otherwise elusive subject. The piece has no ending, so the question is how to begin—a redundant, tidal process that washes new ideas over old ones.
Bauhaus faculty and students had a playful tendency to photograph one another wearing their respective designs. I’m particularly interested in Erich Consemüller’s pictures of a woman seated in a Breuer chair. It’s unknown exactly who the model was—she wears a mask designed for a theatre production, and her clothes are products of the school’s textile workshops. A mask, a dress, and a chair—all items that the school had given a modern facelift to, or to quote Buckminster Fuller’s Bronx cheer for the Bauhaus, had merely modernized “the superficies of end products…” That kind of design, he was arguing, was all surface, a purely aesthetic upgrade that left core concepts unchanged.
The Polich Tallix facility is the size of an airplane hangar, airy and bright inside, but as soon as I set up in one of the fabrication bays, I’m in someone’s way. Haste is inimical to large-format photography, but it’s only a few hours before they close for the weekend, so I’m working quickly. Against the back wall, metal is being heated in buckets over blue flames. People tend to the fire wearing silver suits, their faces hidden behind black visors. Silver people on the shoreline, let us be… I find a surface I like and start gathering metal bits to make a still life—copper rods, drill bits, scrap metal, all of it used by the shop in the fabrication of large sculptural works. This is why I came, to photograph the workspaces and to make pictures about the persistence of objects in art making.
Matthew Porter (b. 1975, Pennsylvania) received his BA from Bard College in 1998 and his MFA from Bard-ICP in 2006. His work has been exhibited in galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and London, including Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography, a group exhibition at Foam Museum in Amsterdam; After Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Perspectives at the International Center of Photography Museum, New York. Porter’s work is held in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; The Sir Elton John Photography Collection; the UBS Art Collection, New York; the Statoil Collection, Norway and the Traina Collection, San Francisco. Porter's curatorial projects include Soft Target, organized with Phil Chang at M+B, Los Angeles; Seven Summits at Mount Tremper Arts, New York; The Crystal Chain at Invisible Exports, New York and Bedtime for Bonzo at M+B, Los Angeles, which was an ARTFORUM Critics' Pick in 2011. He is the coeditor of Blind Spot magazine Issue 45 and his writings and interviews have been featured in Triple Canopy, Blind Spot, ARTFORUM.com and Canteen. Mack Books recently published his first monograph “Archipelago.” Matthew Porter lives and works in Brooklyn.