Matt Keegan’s exhibition at the Carpenter Center continues his long-standing exploration of language, materials, and identity formation. Replicate, Keegan’s first institutional solo presentation in the US, includes his recent video, Generation (2016), alongside sculpture, and two new site specific commissions—a hanging textile and a cardboard-lattice work made in response to the Sert Gallery space.
To replicate is to reproduce. A replicate is a close copy; in music, a replicate is a tone one or more octaves above or below the given tone. This multiplicity of meanings, even in the title of this exhibition, reveals the uncertainty and open nature of language. Words and phrases are bound to specific cultural and historical circumstances but are always shifting along with our changing ideas and positions.
In Generation (2016), a two-channel 45-minute video installation first shown at Participant Inc. in New York and presented here in the Sert Gallery, Keegan interviews his own family members, calling out familiar yet potentially loaded words, such as feminine, masculine, love, race and immigrant. On one screen, each member responds individually with his/her interpretation of the given word. Simultaneously, on an opposite screen, an animation appears with a color and shape that the respondent associates with the given word. The video also includes interviews with family members in their respective homes, discussing how they came to reside there and often highlighting mementos within their residences.
While language is a vehicle to communicate and express ideas, meaning can also be formed, expressed, and represented by other means. In Cutouts (Echo) (2016), explicit language is absent, yet a range of ideas are evoked through sound, color, and shape. The two laser-cut steel sculptures emit sounds based on a composition by artist Sergei Tcherepnin, which uses the vibrations of the sculptures themselves.
Keegan’s works suggest the ways in which meaning is made from specific experiences understood through a given set of constructions that shape our consciousness and understanding. He shows as well that there is always the potential in change and transformation for experiences to come together to form new ways of being.
Matt Keegan: Replicate is organized by Daisy Nam, Assistant Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts