like a portal, like a window, like a moment

by Tyler Matheson

Exhibition Statement:

Tyler Matheson’s solo exhibition like a portal, like a window, like a moment, is, as the title suggests, a series of small queer openings. Matheson’s work is much indebted to queer scholar José Esteban Muñoz’s generous writings on queer aesthetics rooted in glimmer and iridescence as building queer momentum.[1] For example, in Matheson’s series Oblivion, iridescent rainbow fibres emerge as a backdrop encased in cement like a dandelion growing through sidewalk cracks; there is a clear, queer disjuncture yet nonetheless distinct potential for manifestation through these interstitial cracks of possibility. Prior to being installed in the coop, Matheson’s works were documented in the gallery’s surroundings in contexts that much resemble the assigned usages of the materials he is working with. Perhaps most importantly, Matheson’s works point towards a queerness that is in fact already somehow loosely always present, unfolding and opening through glimmering portals. 

A key tenant throughout Matheson’s overall practice is a close attention to (dis)orientations in viewer-artwork relational dynamics. Often offering glimmering iridescent planes, Matheson’s pieces create undulating wavelengths that produce a variety of — admittedly, very gay — rainbows that follow the viewer’s wandering eye. As you move around each piece, the artworks open themselves continuously lending new, varying levels of visibility. This relational importance on (dis)orientation is analogous with queer feminist scholar Sara Ahmed’s writings on queer orientation as a phenomenological directionality; to Ahmed, and too to Matheson, a queer (dis)orientation is not a sexual drive, rather it is an impulse that propels queer bodies towards —and simultaneously, away — from other bodies, places, spaces, objects, communities, and so on.[2] like a portal, like a window, like a moment thus produces small queer openings precisely through these (dis)orienting encounters.

Ultimately, this is an exhibition on queer theory: in the same way that Ahmed writes on queer disorientation, Matheson’s work is a perfect example of how contemporary art also disorients us by offering ways to look, pivot, look anew, question, and eventually making the realm of the theoretical visible. Too, like Muñoz, Matheson ushers us — quite literally — to find queer momentum made manifest by the the entrancing iridescent artworks that subconsciously prompt us to dance around the coop.

[1] José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, (New York City, New York University Press, 2009), 1

[2] Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, (Durham & London, Duke University Press, 2006), 56

Artist Biography:

Tyler is a queer interdisciplinary research-based artist, educator, and culture worker residing in the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. His practice explores personal and shared experiences of feeling queer. His practice serves as an aesthetic and material investigation of the performativity of otherness, identity and visibility (via the experience of queerness). Tyler received his Bachelors in Fine Art and Art History at York University and received both a Masters in Fine Art; Studio Art and Fundamentals of University Teaching Certificate in 2020 from the University of Waterloo. Tyler recently held the position of Digital Audience Assistant at The Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. Currently, Tyler is a Resident Artist and Fellow at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre, a Gallery Attendant with the Toronto Biennial, serves on the Board of Directors at Hamilton Artists Inc., and is an Art Instructor with Visual Arts Mississauga at Riverwood. Tyler’s practice has been supported by Ontario Arts Council funding.

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