Magazine article Sculpture

DETROIT: Matthew Angelo Harrison

Magazine article Sculpture

DETROIT: Matthew Angelo Harrison

Article excerpt


Matthew Angelo Harrison

Museum of Contemporary Art

The first order of business when entering Matthew Angelo Harrison's "Detroit City/Detroit Affinities" was to identify what, precisely, was the art. The two freestanding 3D printers, titled The Consequence of Platforms? The oddly misshapen and sometimes incomplete heads 3D-printed in clay throughout the run of the show? The benches and display cases rendered in precision-cut clear acrylic, some intimately intertwined with zebra and wildebeest skulls? To hear Harrison tell it, the answer is any or all of these.

"I think that, at this point in time, craft is less important," he said during a talk at MOCAD. "The handcrafted object is changing so much that, when we go to a museum, we barely have an association with that end product. So, I kind of wanted to create a heightened sense of that, by having [the means of production] right in the space" And yet, Harrison thinks of his printers, which he calls "platforms," very much as sculptures in their own right-they are artistdesigned, built, titled, and represented by Jessica Silverman Gallery. "It's interesting to have a sculpture that makes sculptures," he says.

This acknowledgment of the multifold nature of truth is to be expected, considering the work's overt reference to Nelson Goodman's theories of human cognition and practice, particularly his 1951 book, The Structure of Appearance, which Harrison cites as a major influence and which asserts that the world is, in itself, no more one way than another. This simultaneity of conflicting realities is the defining characteristic of life on the ground in Detroit, and as a Detroit native, Harrison toys effortlessly with the rather porous nature of cultural exchange. His platforms produce works via the scanning and reprinting of traditional African masks, collector's items, and souvenirs, superimposing the features together and continuously re-rendering them through the abstracting mechanism of the 3D printer. Harrison is consciously complicating the history of the traditional mask, complicating questions of entitlement within the practice and directionality of cultural appropriation between African Americans and native African cultures, and complicating the position of the artist in the production process. …

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