Mat Glenn

selected projects

    Earn Your Stripes (2020)

Exhibition Description /

Earn Your Stripes is an ongoing project by Mat Glenn investigating the visual language of human-nonhuman opposition in the natural landscape. Reified by the outdoor-equipment-industrial-complex, the market inspires humans to control and conquer landscapes using a specific material language of straps, nylon, taped seams, backpacks, synthetic down, Gore-Tex, and zippers. This exhibition re-appropriates these materials to destabilize the notion that human life-force is in opposition to nature. Through this series of sculptural works, life-force and nature are enmeshed into assemblages of synthetic and organic materials, which composes our experience in the exhibition.

Earn Your Stripes creates a space where life-matter and subject-object binaries are rendered obsolete. Hybrid moments appear in this obsolescence, with life and matter vibrating between human and nonhuman references. Hybridity celebrates the unlearning of human exceptionalism by showing us that life-force is not exclusive to human bodies. Instead, it exists within these assemblages of co-existing living and non-living forces. Something like an incorporeal web connecting us to our surroundings, the work suggests that our life-force only exists insofar as it happens in our relationships to things, living and non-living.
Each human is a heterogeneous compound of wonder-fully vibrant, dangerously vibrant, matter. If matter itself is lively, then not only is the difference between subjects and objects minimized, but the status of the shared materiality of all things is elevated.
Such a newfound attentiveness to matter and its powers will not solve the problem of human exploitation or oppression, but it can inspire a greater sense of the extent to which all bodies are kin in the sense of inextricably enmeshed in a dense network of relations. And in a knotted world of vibrant matter, to harm one section of the web may very well be to harm oneself. Such an enlightened or expanded notion of self-interest is good for humans. [1]

Earn Your Stripes is indebted to the writings of Jane Bennett, who created the conceptual space the artworks occupy, as well as the Syilx/Okanagan territory where Glenn’s understanding of the natural world was created.

[1] Bennett, Jane. “The Force of Things.” Essay. In Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things, 11–12. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.

Exhibition Text /

I’m told our age and expansion is a dense exhale. At some point soldered by a violent incandescence, then hot distention, and now atomies spattered with remnants of a crucial heavenly decay. Sometimes I can still taste the pennymetal in my mouth, living life as a residue extant rarity. But calcification is not causation, and we never earned our origin.

Versions of matter domination crumble when you realize what we see accounts for 4% of what there is. We respond to a horrific complexion by polishing our own; glinting human ascendance. As if a machinated lexicon and gore techs could choke meaning out of an impractical corporeity. As if wetware keeps us from being wet.

Yet our ultra instance, this slight articulation of carbon valency and other gossamer, has figured a lust cause to be or become. Trace senses waxing haptic for total material subordination— bending dust to subdue dust.

I like to think of a core domain that does not care to transcend. Without limit and without centre, it dislocates, disintegrates, then dissolves.

– Nivedita Iyer