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Mary Mattingly Owns Up

July 19, 2013

Do objects come with responsibility? In this film, Mary Mattingly transforms personal belongings into sculptural forms that she later incorporates into photographs and performative actions. Experimenting with living in her Greenpoint studio space, Mattingly is determined to live with just the bare essentials.

Over several months, she undertakes a process of recording every object she owns and tracing the history of each of her belongings—how it came into her life, its distribution via complex global supply chains, as well as where the raw materials for its manufacture was sourced—before uploading a digital version of each object to her website OWN-IT.US for others to access. Throughout this process, she takes stock of the environmental and societal impact of her personal consumption, wondering if “maybe we need art more today because we’re in a world with so many mass produced things.”

Mattingly aggregates all of her personal belongings into boulder-like sculptural bundles, held together with rope, so that she is able to roll and drag them. She’s photographed walking the sculpture Fill (Obstruct) (2013) across the Bayonne Bridge, from Staten Island to New Jersey, and to the Port of New York New Jersey—symbolically returning her personal belongings to the place where they entered the East Coast. “It’s kind of really incredibly Sisyphean in a way,” says Mattingly about her actions, eventually attracting the attention of the Port Authority Police and Homeland Security who surveil the port.

More information and credits

Also featuring the works Kart (2008); Floating a Boulder (2012); Pile-High (2012); The Furies (Titian, again) (2013); The Damned (Titian, again) (2013); and Life of Objects (2013).

Credits

Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Producer & Editor: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Cinematography: Wesley Miller, Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Ava Wiland. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Mary Mattingly. Music: Darren Will. Thanks: El Bandido Loco (Cat), Greg Lindquist, Nina Lucey, Robert Mann Gallery, Papaya (Cat), Lauren Slowik & David Smith. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Licensing

Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Mary Mattingly

Mary Mattingly was born in 1978 in Rockville, Connecticut, and lives and works in New York. Combining a visual-art practice with environmental activism and education, Mattingly wrote a manifesto that opens with the statement, “Art can transform people’s perceptions about value, and collective art forms can reframe predominant ideologies.” Mattingly’s determination to create alternative means of survival in the face of a dystopian future has resulted in various projects, from wearable cocoons that can store water and solar power to alternative urban infrastructure.