Mathew Lusk transforms the gallery with his installation inspired in part by a 1936 photograph by Arthur Rothstein of a lonely structure seen in the Kansas plains titled “A Bank That Failed.” Conceived before recent financial crises, the concept has since expanded almost exponentially. Utilizing salvaged, long-discarded architectural and sculptural remnants, he configures here “something like an abandoned bank, complete with offices, a boardroom, teller’s windows and bathrooms, furnishing this new environment with an array of objects and gestures that would further an extended inquiry into the nature of various aspects of the American Dream. This project isn't about banking, per se, but more concerned with greater themes of responsibility and disaster and redemption and hope. It has as much to do with failed levees as levied failures.”
Viewers wander from room to room besieged with found objects as divergent as a common rotating fan labeled Katrina in faded marker, a stuffed turkey (Ben Franklin’s choice for our national bird and perhaps more apropos), and a cheap plastic clock advertising Viagra. The magnificent center piece is a bank vault that acts as monumental ziggurat, its door blown from its hinges into the middle of the exhibition space. Vintage fixtures and sundry details like period lamps, upended clerk’s desk, and hand-made sandbags (screen-printed with backward dollar signs) comprise a bunker/levee. Lusk leaves a mysterious passageway – perhaps this serves possible escape for the ghost of the Grand Panjandrum.
Lusk casts a crooked, anachronistic eye on today’s anemic economic, spiritual, political and cultural institutions. “More Broken Glass Than There Was Window” is an apt tagline for many aspects of our contemporary predicaments. The imagery and sentiment was undoubtedly also influenced by the decrepit and decayed environs of the neighborhoods surrounding the artist’s studio in Newburgh, New York.
This is the Matthew Lusk’s first solo project. His work has been in group shows in New York including at Sculpture Center, Exit Art, Museum 52, and triple candie, as well as the 2008 Emerging Artist Fellowship and corresponding exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park. His hybrid curatorial/art projects at galleries including Lehman Maupin and Jack the Pelican have received praise from press such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time Out/New York, among others. He has his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and lives in New York
*Featuring the introduction of a new publishing house, Smith & Brown, with an eponymous novella by Victoria Miguel and a live performance by Lynn Wright, Matthew Lusk and others.