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Matthew Day Jackson's first major solo European exhibition opens at The Hague's GEM museum
The Tomb, 2010, Found wood, plastic resin, stainless steel, glass, sycamore, scythe blade, neon tubes, Charles and Ray Eames leg brace, yarn, silver, tool dip, tiger eye, 321.3 x 238.8 x 315 cm / 126 1/2 x 94 x 124 inches, Installation view at MAMbo, Bologna, Italy, 2011, Courtesy the artist , Photo: Matteo Monti, © Matthew Day Jackson.

THE HAGUE.- The Hague’s GEM museum presents the final installation of In Search of…, Matthew Day Jackson’s (b. 1974) first major solo European exhibition. In cooperation with MAMbo in Bologna (Italy) and Kunstmuseum Luzern (Switzerland), the exhibition includes work from 2007 to present and frames it within the line of thought that has developed in Jackson’s work. Drawing from aspects of American manufactured history, it’s myths, the American Dream and those inherent failures; Jackson uses references from the past to frame undercurrents that steer present cultural, scientific and technological trajectories. The critical reception of Jackson’s work in recent years in the United States has allowed for the opportunity to exhibit his video, sculpture and paintings to the European museum audience at this time.

The exhibition will transport the viewer to a world in which the past and present become one. It will include Matthew Day Jackson’s well-known Life and Time magazine covers, which fuse visual icons from different eras, placing each in a new context that changes its meaning. Visitors can also see his In search of… films, in which the artist makes use of American conspiracy theories, combining them in his own idiosyncratic way. Fragments of TV series interrupted by absurd tableaux or fake advertisements cast doubt on the authenticity of what you see. His ‘study collections’ will also be represented: open-fronted steel shelf units housing displays of disparate objects (such as skulls, models and pots), where Day Jackson poses as an archaeologist of contemporary art.

The linkage of past and present recurs in works like The Tomb (2010), inspired by Antoine Le Moiturier’s 15th-century Tomb of Philippe Pot, now in the Louvre. Day Jackson translates the image to the present by using astronauts to replace the hooded monks carrying Pot’s effigy in the original. On their shoulders, the astronauts carry a glass box containing a sort of skeleton based on the artist’s body measurements. While visitors to the Louvre view the powerful figures of Le Moiturier’s monks only from a distance, Day Jackson’s work offers a more direct experience, allowing visitors actually to walk in between the astronauts.

Thanks to its Association of Friends, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag has recently been able to acquire a relief from Matthew Day Jackson’s 2009 series August 6, 1945. All the works in this series bear the same title: the date on which the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The date is historic because it marks not only the end of World War II, but also the start of an era in which we have had to live with the constant fear of nuclear annihilation. The series consists of vertical views of the various cities bombed by the Allies in World War II – in the case of the work acquired by the Gemeentemuseum, Peenemünde, where the V2 rocket was manufactured. The ‘city plans’ are made of wooden blocks, to which Matthew Day Jackson has set fire. The result is a scorched and blackened city with rivers of molten lead, looking as if it has indeed been hit by an atom bomb.

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