Duett: Matt Giel & Alanna Lawley

Two artists reach “across the pond” to produce three dimensional, photographic and mixed media work in response to each other’s practice and to Grizzly Grizzly’s space. Facilitated by art writer Becky Hunter, “Duett” presents the results of a sporadic, six-month transatlantic exchange between British, Berlin-based artist Alanna Lawley and Matt Giel, an American photographer living in Philadelphia. The exhibition title, German for duet, metaphors the relationship between the two artists’ works as weaving around a conceptual “melody” in diverse ways, as well as reflecting the show’s international ambition.

Both artists make use of “throwaway”, or generic, subject matter to shift focus from the image to the physical experience of the photograph in a given space. Here, Giel’s seascapes are coiled, taped up, draped over a support, and made-to-measure around the gallery’s column. Aware of cultural debates surrounding the image detached from form in Western capitalism, his is an ethical practice, emphasizing each photograph’s status as a singular material object existing in the world. Lawley’s dominating, four-panel construction, suspended using commercial display equipment, montages scans from interior design catalogs. Scaled to seduce, confront, and disorient the viewer who must negotiate multiple vantage points, her installation exposes the falsity of these fetishized interiors.

In the run-up to the show, Giel and Lawley exchanged images and ideas across considerable geographical and temporal distance using Internet technologies: Skype, GChat, Google SketchUp, and email. Distance and time directly figure on a reduced scale in their photographic work. For example, Giel is concerned with the space between the photo paper and the enlarger light; by putting in place disorienting physical boundaries, Lawley aims to slow the viewer’s comprehension that they are trapped within an ambiguous scene. Naturally this work, unlike some conventional photography, demands to be experienced in its physical form. It was therefore not only online, but significantly during the installation week – in the space with the objects – that important decisions and insights occurred.

Please visit the exhibition’s tumblr for an archive of the exhibition’s documents and ephemera, proposals, images, sketch-ups, and GChat / email conversations, and an essay by Becky Hunter.

Anna Neighbor chaired an artist talk on Sunday, January 8. Closing the show, on Sunday, January 22, web professional Kelani Nichole discussed online artistic communication with Giel and Lawley in the context of her broader research and curating in this field.

“Duett”: Matt Giel & Alanna Lawley
January 6-28, 2012
First Friday Opening, January 6, 6-10pm

Grizzly Grizzly, 319 North 11th Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 2-6pm