Matthew Tremblay – Something

Artist Statement for Arnica, 2016. Matthew Tremblay

In this project, I intend to examine the relationship between things and objects. In Bill Brown’s Thing Theory he states “We begin to confront the thingness of objects when they stop working for us: when the drill breaks, when the car stalls, when the window gets filthy….”1

I have always been interested in things and objects; how they relate to me and how I to them.   In particular, I am drawn to things that are broken or worn out and I am often hesitant to throw them or specific parts of them away, especially things that perhaps I can use in some other way – the hinges from my old futon, the wheels from my son's old stroller… sadly most of the time, these things sit in my shop idle and waiting. This curiosity of mine also explains my interest in archaeology and the primarily material culture it explores. Archaeology’s systematic approach to objects and things influences the work I do and often come through in how I categorize and/or grid objects according to function, size, etc. Lately, as a frequent visitor to the city landfill, I have been drawn to things in the massive and ever changing metal scrap pile and while I look at the things in the pile – broken bikes, ovens, pipes, unidentifiable things, etc. I began to ask myself questions like: is a broken wheel still a wheel if it can no longer function as one?

In-progressAs such, I wish to create a series of drawings in 2 parts. The first will depict things found in the dirt, the side of the road, at the city landfill, and so on. Destined to decay and rust away or be melted down for scrap, these broken, discarded and sometimes ambiguous things have outlived their original usefulness as objects that served some function in the world.

In the second part, I will in a sense, give these things a fictionalized ‘second life’ proposing alternate functions and usages. The new functions will sometimes be comical or absurd and sometimes sad but never-the-less they will, in theory, be transformed from an ambiguous non-functional thing to a once again useful object.

Project description:

In the Vault I want to create a continuous drawing on paper around the perimeter of the room (approx. 44’ long) which will depict a variety of things I have found; some of which I will redraw in the Main gallery that will show some sort of new purpose for the thing. Many of the things in the Vault will not be depicted with a new use which could provide the viewer an opportunity to use their own imagination to repurpose the things if they wish.

  1. Bill Brown, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 28, N0 1, Things. (Autumn, 2001, pp.4)

Listen to the essay below.


Check out the publication:

Some Thing