The Mirage of Damnatio Memoriae: New Work by Matthew Yaeger
Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 6-9PM
April 8th – May 20th
The Mirage of Damnatio Memoriae is a play on the Latin phrase damnatio memoriae, the condemnation of memory, an act of dishonor passed by the Roman Senate to punish traitors by erasing them from historical record. Matthew Yaeger uses this term to reflect the duality of his work, recognizing that this act of excising someone from history simultaneously embeds a new narrative into the collective consciousness.
Matthew Yaeger’s work starts through the act of collecting, images sources from design magazines, fashion photography, art history, film stills, online searches, and screen grabs, in search of constructing analogies. Equating an elegantly curved faucet with the Triumphal Arch reveals an ongoing preoccupation with beauty and idealized form, which connects us to time and our own mortality.
The series Yaeger created for The Mirage of Damnatio Memoriae uses ancient Roman art and architecture as a representation of how contemporary culture accesses value in terms of universal symbology. Fully developed and integrated into their society, the Romans used the arch not only as an engineering solution, but also as a symbol of self-proclaimed achievement and power. In irony, the fall of their society made the arch an artifact of their demise. Contained within this single form exists a duality between the human drive towards success, and our inevitable mortality. His starting point for the exhibition is two images of Commodus as Hercules, forming a beginning and end of a loop of associations.
Yaeger states: “The first image captures the front of the sculpture, which depicts Commodus in marble as a god-like muscular human. The second image shows the braced-up, hollow cavity of the back of the sculpture. Placing these two images side-by-side reveals a contrast between fullness and emptiness. This duality between presence and absence of volume became the mantra for the crushing, folding, flattening, and emptying of forms and spaces in the various works made for the show.”
The work in the exhibition combines painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and sculptural elements. Each of the works goes through a series of manipulations, both digital and analog processes. Layers of scanned and digitally altered images are further transformed by drawing, painting and printmaking technics. Yaeger uses mirage and obstruction to create the illusion of a space that can be entered, but is beyond what is immediately accessible.
Matthew Yaeger lives and works in Minneapolis. He received his BFA from Saint Cloud State University, 2012 and his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015. His work has been published in New American Paintings and Forget Good. He has exhibited his work in numerous group exhibitions. The Mirage of Damnatio Memoriae will be his first solo exhibition.
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