236 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T7, Canada
September 9, 2011 - October 8, 2011
Reputable Dealers and Brackish Water
by Aaron Carpenter
Posted by Aaron Carpenter
| tags: conceptual
The actions of Matthew Sawyer employ an uneasy blend of charity and chicanery. In April of 2002 he abducted his neighbors shoes, only to spend the night carefully rendering a pair of swallows in flight across the soles before returning them undetected. More recently he purchased a red hooded sweatshirt from Gap and returned it for resale, not out of dissatisfaction with the product, but as an absurd gift; he used his brief ownership of the item to sew 40,000-year-old woolly mammoth hairs into the garment, subtly emblazoning the logo with a tawny seam yielded from Siberian permafrost. During the opening at Unit/Pitt Projects, I asked the artist and musician how many times he had been questioned about where he acquired his prehistoric fibres, partially because I wanted to gauge the audience's trust in his ephemeral actions, but mostly because I was curious myself. He replied that he had been asked exactly seven hundred and forty-two times, and added: “What the fuck is wrong with these people? There are reputable dealers all over London.”This hyperbolic little spout of frustration, while humorous, reflected my own indignation regarding these "Documentary Works" continually being described as "absurd." I myself used the word one paragraph ago, and I’ve already decided that I was wrong. Forgive me. The most redolent aspect of Sawyer’s actions is that they are evincingly appropriate. To leave your faucets on during a jaunt down to Trafalgar Square fountain, as Sawyer did for one of these works, might seem a bit odd or wasteful, yet, on consideration, any absurdity this action might articulate is solely that of the ridiculous fountain and the throngs of tourists around it. The artist and his apartment are participating in the spouting circulation of brackish English water. And while this kind of endeavor might not be called exactly pragmatic, it is thoughtful and worthwhile, and being thoughtful and doing things that are worthwhile makes a perfect kind of sense.—Aaron Carpenter, an artist and writer living in Vancouver.