Matthew Geller

Artist Website

Artist Resume

Artist Statement

I’m particularly drawn to overlooked or underutilized environments, from imaginary worlds within brick walls, to back alleys, to very public sprawling open spaces. Whether the work takes the form of public art, sculpture, or installations, it is in these environments that I tease out small fragments of narrative by augmenting or amplifying the raw materials of a given place. I ask the viewer to engage both with what was always there as well as what might be.

In the 1980s, I switched my studio practice from primarily sculpture to the production of video works, reworking the structure and style of television storytelling with comic narratives that played off conventional genres—documentary, fairytale, melodrama. Employing fragmentation and disjunction as storytelling devices, I intercut several seemingly unrelated anecdotal stories into cohesive, if nonlinear, narratives. My focus on video culminated with a solo show, From Receiver to Remote Control: The TV Set, at the New Museum in New York in 1990. Beginning with my fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (1991-2), I integrated my skills as a storyteller and sculptor by creating intimate observed worlds in miniature. For the fifteen years I have taken these ideas, changed the scale, and extended the possibilities for site and a chaotic viewership by producing temporary and permanent public art.

As with all of my public artwork, I set out to engage the public and foster a sense of community. The works are spirited, accessible—and very often unexpected. By using disparate elements (including everything from swings to showers to wind) in surprising and interactive ways, my work aims to encourage engagement with the work and among viewers themselves.

For the past dozen years, I’ve often worked with a visual vocabulary that doesn’t immediately telegraph its status as art. I like to use eyesores as my starting point, sites and vernaculars that have been marginalized in some form: the controlled chaos of industrial infrastructure (Open Channel Flow and Chroma Booster), the abandoned limb of an amusement park ride (Nautical Swing and Greenway Blueway Byway Skyway), or the aging tree in a public park (Woozy Blossum).  I take these abject artifacts and retrofit them to create a ready-made public square, often incorporating interactivity and/or evanescent media as a beckoning device. The idea is to foster a sense of community around an unlikely object or site, to surprise.