Matthew Brannon (b. St. Maries, 1971) has developed a site-specific installation, as part of which he will also show several new works.

In his art, Brannon, proceeding rigorously and sometimes with macabre enthusiasm, dissects a consumerist society that seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction. Immoderation, greed, excesses, and most gravely, indomitable hedonism: these, it seems, are central elements of contemporary life as Brannon sees it. In prints, wallpapers, films, sound pieces, and writings, and most recently also in paintings, the artist articulates his personal views of what the filmmaker Jean Renoir—whom Brannon often cites—has called a “rotten society.” The imagery to which the artist’s works refer is only too familiar, featuring messy banquet leftovers, abandoned office landscapes, adult toys and other accessories made by the entertainment industry, pseudo-luxury versions of articles of daily use, and various alcoholic beverages and culinary delights—the stereotypes of a globalized jet-set culture. Brannon’s prints combine the superficiality of simplified form and content with acerbic narrative texts, uncovering a deeper—and sometimes abysmal—meaning concealed in these banal situations. Language, the beholder realizes, is just as important to Brannon as any object or representational content. In his work, words and writing become catalysts of sorts, making precisely calibrated suggestions as to the multifaceted possible readings of the various scenarios.

At Portikus, Brannon will show his prints as well as an ornamental wallpaper design and a sound piece entitled Gag. Once again, he is playing with language as a medium as well as its failure: to “gag” someone means to choke him or shut him up—that is, to render him incapable of speaking—but the word also refers to the telling of jokes. In such paradoxical confrontations, Matthew Brannon examines not just the complexity of socially established signs and the various interpretations that can be put on them; he also solicits the meanings generated by the beholder’s bafflement.

Photos: Katrin Schilling