ArtKrush - Text

Matthew Monteith
by Nicholas Herman
ArtKrush, Issue 10: July 13, 2005

We all live in a bubble, an architectural metaphor that holds us captive while exposing our fantasies. Over the past five years photographer Matthew Monteith has repeatedly returned to the subject of enclosure, presenting the environments in which we live, learn, and play as a series of revealing bubbles, where evidence of our dreams and ideologies is trapped and recorded.

In his first photographic series, Monteith documented the last days of the International Center for Photography's (ICP) location on NYC's East 94th Street. These pictures, like a later series done while a graduate student at Yale titled Art School, capture the spaces where artistic learning occurs. Employing the tenor and tones of a forensic document, Monteith's sparse compositions suggest a parched landscape, where hungry ghosts haunt chairs, desks, and walls.

Although Monteith is a superb portraitist, his pictures often seem uninhabited, like the characters have been suddenly cast out of their own bodies. This strange lonely quality is at work in his more recent and widely exhibited series Czech Eden. Taken while he was a Fulbright Scholar, the Eden pictures were inspired by Monteith's own collection of postcards from Czechoslovakia's communist era. As in the historic postcards, these works capture a group of subjects whose optimism is overlaid by an intractable architecture of circumscribed longing and failed utopia. Monteith deftly uses the framework of a country's borders to portray the humanity of his subjects while simultaneously evoking the clear disillusion of the Czech countryside. (NH)

Matthew Monteith's new work, documenting the interiors of cars, is on view in a solo exhibition at the Hotel Nord-Pinus in Arles, France, through September 18, 2005.