As its title suggests, Recycle features new video, photography and collage-based work made from pre-existing mass-produced material, repurposed for this exhibition. In the three bodies of work exhibited, commercial images serve as tools for learning, archival material, and stand-ins for purported everyday needs. Tied to the subject of image-based communication—foundational to our present-day condition—Keegan examines ways in which meaning is produced through his selected photographs. Incorporating the language of advertising as his main point of reference, Keegan re-enacts and reanimates his sources by shifting them away from their initial context, frequently resulting in humour and satire.
Inspired by a collection of image-only flashcards, hand-assembled by the artist’s mother to teach English-language learning, Keegan’s commercial-length videos translate four static images into a time-based format. The original ESL flashcards were made by cutting photo reproductions out from catalogues, magazines, newspapers and other printed matter that came into Keegan’s home. He selected these four examples from a set of four hundred doubled-sided cards, for their variety of promotional content. The videos present the animation of the inanimate, the sexually charged, the biographical and the naming of particular subcultures, all through the filter of contemporary advertising.
While language and cognition have been crucial to the work of Matt Keegan, subject formation has occupied an equally important role in his practice. The work featured in Recycle highlights the limitless scale of the contemporary image archive, but also, the way subjects are shaped by this material.