The core component of Matt Bryans’ Lands exhibition is an installation of gunstocks that once belonged to bolt action rifles, semi automatic rifles, automatic rifles, sub-machine guns, machine guns, shotguns, and air rifles; all sourced by the artist and presented here as an evolving collection. Accompanying the exhibition is a publication by the artist that supplements, supports, and mediates this collection, and yet does so without completely giving up its own artistry. The publication lists each of the stocks with details of origin, history, and current condition, written in a language that borrows from the objectifying processes of the museum register.
The human stories that run through the exhibition are displaced by the animated histories of the gunstocks, overturning our central position in the work’s narration. Bryans decentres the human players in this history of military conflict in favour of the materials that constitute it. Lands follows from Matt Bryans’ previous works that have refigured the body to the point of near collapse, and through the materials he uses we are also reminded of the ceaseless presence of war in this centennial year of the beginning of World War One.
This exhibition has been prepared with Hordaland Art Centre, Bergen Norway.