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Creative Research Lab

SHIFT (MFA1) - March 2008

Matt Rebholz

Matthew Rebholz
The Golem: Chapter VII, 2008
intalio and chine collé
8"h x 6 "w

My prints and drawings are subject to literary posturing, deploying metaphor, symbol, myth and allegory in an environment of indistinct malice. Rooted in a figurative tradition, my current work explores a combination of violence and mordant humor with an undercurrent of social consciousness through an overarching narrative. The world that results from this equation is one of claustrophobic compositions besieged by linear density, and invites the viewer into the imagery to explore the layers of detail in an attempt to unpack the information encoded within.

The Golem project is a suite of twenty etchings that has been the primary thrust of my studio practice throughout my graduate school career. The series is inspired by the tale of the Golem, a Frankenstein-esque figure from Jewish folklore. The narrative arc of the print is a loose re-imagining of Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel Der Golem, in which the title character wanders the streets of a corrupt and ruined city, blissfully unaware that he is a malfunctioning meat robot and not truly a man.

The grotesque inhabitants of the tableaux of the Golem series are a cast of damaged characters eager to do violence onto one another. They occupy a polluted and uneasy dreamscape, a fairytale in which deranged actors struggle to find their role in a stage play they do not quite understand. This environment of grim theater is a reflection of aspects of our civilization that I find alternately interesting, disturbing and amusing. As the Golem project has run its course, it has deviated significantly from Meyrink's original narrative, becoming less and less concerned with the original storyline and increasingly engaged with my own thoughts about contemporary society -- about consumption, ingestion, greed and expulsion. It seems that life in 21st century America is one precarious step away from slipping into surreal dystopia, and it is this sensation that permeates and informs the work.