MAT COLLISHAW: MINOR CUTS: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

September 12 - October 17, 1998
Installation Views
Press release

Bonakdar Jancou Gallery is pleased to present Minor Cuts, Mat Collishaw's third one person exhibition in New York.  Consisting of several new video installations and photographic works, Mat Collishaw continues to create powerful, ironic images and objects that disturb as they seduce.  Often implicating the viewer as voyeur, Collishaw's work exposes the basic vulnerability of human nature and investigates the fragile moral balance that defines our culture.


In the main gallery space, Collishaw presents three video installations that manipulate cultural stereotypes and expectations, drawing us in with a certain visual dazzle just as our moral consciousness pushes us away.  In the first, a stripper frozen in mid-tease, turns 360 degrees to allow the viewer a moment of omniscient visual access.  Next, set within a mock-up of a generic Chinese food restaurant, the projected image of an Asian girl in traditional dress emerges from behind a small paper menu.  She dances to a sample of 60's style eastern-influenced pop music, a further example of cultural exchange tainted through translation, and then disappears in a flash. 


In the room's final work, an architectural model of a small village in Northern England is a seemingly benign portrait of the ideal, civilized community.  Our desire to project a positive image of societal decency upon this set is subverted, however, by the images actually projected onto the set by an unseen television screen.  As ambient religious hymns emanate from a large brick church, a band of hooligans emerges from a pub, a woman screams from her apartment window, a car is set afire.  An abstract reference to the hypocrisy of our culture, the piece is also a more literal commentary on the obsessive activity of model making as an attempt to create a more perfect version of reality.

In the second gallery space, a short clip of a dog scratching at the bottom of a door from the film classic Oliver Twist is projected onto the wall  accompanied by the audio of the character Bill beating his wife Nancy.  Overlaying this original clip with the silhouette images of Bill and Nancy acting out the scene of domestic violence, the forms abstract and interweave to create a projection of frightful intensity.


Finally, in work that references Victorian photography and 19th Century French painting, Collishaw presents several images of tiny girl-fairies with insect-like wings set within contemporary scenes of urban decay.  The ironic juxtaposition both elevates and degrades the sweet innocence and beauty of the children.  At the same time, the romantic notion of the fairies set against the artifacts of modern waste symbolizes the decline and corruption of society in general.


Mat Collishaw lives and works in London.  Recent group exhibitions include "Full House: Young British Art," at the Kunst Museum Wolfsburg; "Sensation: Young British Artist's from the Saatchi Collection," London; "Comme un Oiseau, Cartier Foundation, Paris; and "Live/Life," Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris.  Currently, Collishaw is participating "The Edge of Awareness," at PS 1, New York and "Claustrophobia," at Middlesbrough Art Gallery, England.