Based on philosopher Gaston Bachelard's book Poetics of Space with a chapter by the same name, House and Universe describes interdependencies of a material supply chain, global in scope. House and Universe is an allegorical series of photographs that combined living systems like floating geodesic capsules with bundles of personal objects I collected and carried with me. I began this series in 2013, and at that point had bundled most of my possessions into seven large boulder-like forms that could be rolled or pushed.
On a bridge, a woman is pulling a large bundle. She tugs at its mass, nearly as large as herself. It is made of clothes, computers, notebooks, CDs, books, necklaces, playing cards, all wrapped together with twine. She slowly makes her way from one shore to the other, as cargo ships pass beneath her. Few people pass this way. A police car patrolling the area slows down and the cops eye her suspiciously. She is asked to move faster. It takes her forty-five minutes to cross what is one of the largest entry points for commodities into the eastern United States. The act is a symbolic blockade: an homage to an anachronistic bridge that has slowed the flow of goods into the country for decades. Built in an outdated era, the Bayonne Bridge was too low for contemporary container ships to pass underneath at the time of the performance. The ships were forced to wait until low tide, temporarily halting their endless and on-demand flow of goods across the globe. Mattingly’s performance mirrors this obstinate infrastructure. Bundling together the mass-produced objects that increasingly populate our lives, she uses these ‘man-made boulders’ to block passage, causing disruptions on the bridge. The weight of the commodity object here literally drags—or, in the case of the photograph, Life of Objects (2013), perilously rests, seeming to crush the vulnerable body beneath. -Heather Davis
The Island is the Origin, 2013
Verse and Universe, 2013
Jute Bales, 2012
Jute Transport, 2012
The Port, 2012
For a Week Without Speaking, 2013
Cube 3, 2013
Life of Objects, 2013
Floating a Boulder, 2012
Filling Double Negative (Landfill), 2013
Ruin in Reverse (Landfill), 2013
Pull (Shipyard), 2013
Own it.us was made at the same time: an online library that catalogs the things I bundled and illustrates the pathways of these objects, and how they came into my life. I've spent considerable time living in and within ecosystems or shelters I've co-built, some pictured in House and Universe, those experiences have asked me to reconsider my surroundings, to vision how collections can function as monuments to consumption, and how, as an inhabitant of NYC, I help make the collective monument called a landfill. In absurd performances, I would pull the bundles through NYC, Really to emphasize the weight of these objects.
The sculptures' wrappings are inextricably intertwined like cycles of production - through a chain of formal and informal exchanges, an object is mined, made, distributed, bought, exchanged, and eventually thrown away, where it becomes something else. The photographs of these things echo the cobbled-together things themselves: pieced together with images of disparate place, time, and space. Like time capsules, they function as obstructions and proposals. They block, interfere, and frame an encounter.