Matthew Angelo Harrison
For the inaugural edition of 8-bridges, Jessica Silverman is pleased to present eight new sculptures by Matthew Angelo Harrison. Harrison creates enigmatic sculptures that are in conversation with anthropology, industrial design, science fiction and the realities of 21st century capitalism. Born and raised in Detroit, Harrison occasionally accompanied his mother to work at American Axle, a small car parts firm, where she worked on the assembly line. His early experience of this “intense, almost violent working environment,” as he puts it, has fueled a fascination with machines and the relationship of Black American identity with labor.
Harrison’s “Bodily Studies” take the form of chairs or “thrones,” as the artist calls them, made of resin and real zebra bone. The combination of materials – organic animal and petroleum-based acrylic – is oxymoronic, evoking both preservation and extinction. The carefully sliced skulls create beautiful patterns and phantom faces, a soul-stirring life after death. Representing the African savannah as well as the idiosyncrasies of evolutionary camouflage, the zebra’s black and white coat is replaced by a harmony of tinted resins.
As part of a new “Global Dissidents” series, Harrison has made resin encapsulations of fragments of car headlights – specifically the curvilinear forms of the Porsche 911, made in Stuttgart, Germany. Sitting on raised pedestals at viewer eye-level, the sculptures take on anthropomorphic qualities, suggesting heads or eyes that are not entirely inanimate. As such, they become rebels from the assembly line, runaway slaves, robots gone rogue, figures that refuse their function and deconstruct what would otherwise be an emblem of power.
With these latest works, Harrison continues his exploration of the aesthetics and politics of globalization, mass production, authenticity, and metamorphosis. Alongside his “abstracted ancestries,” these new works contribute to the artist’s long-term project to make “archaeologies of the future.”