Matt Mullican --

Matt Mullican
04/02/2000 - 31/03/2000

[…] Seen from the point of view of the social sciences, our sense of reality is acquired during childhood in the same way we acquire language — through communication with those around us. The "real world" is a domain we learn to inhabit only gradually, as we are taught the names of things appropriate to its sphere, as opposed to the names of those which are excluded; the relationships between things are discovered to be synonymous with the relationships between the word-symbols, used to represent them; and as time goes by, we come to infer the nature of reality — just as we infer the grammar of our language — through our interaction with others. […]
What is interesting about this sociological view of worldly knowledge is that it locates the real world within the symbolic field along with other realms of meaning in such a way that the difference between the real and the not-real becomes a matter of social convention — not as we generally assume, a self-evident differentiation proceeding from natural law. […]

It is this inner process — constructing the world we live in and preserving its stability — which seems to be of special interest to Matt Mullican. His work, which is the product of a detailed, near-obsessive introspection, is devised as an elaborate attempt to duplicate externally the vast complex of inner representations which add up to his understanding of the world he lives in. Through the use of all conceivable media — drawings, readings, performances, posters, signs, sculptures, banners, etc. — he has undertaken to re-create for the outer senses a multidimensional picture of those normally unconscious, interior processes which are present in all of us. […]

The world Mullican constructs through his art is complex, poignant, frightening, and sometimes wondrous — but no more so than any of the worlds each one of us constructs, from moment to moment, as we create "reality" for ourselves. The difference is that Mullican is able to translate the particulars of this intimate, deeply personal process into such a clear and communicable presentation that he not only constructs an ascertainable place for his private world in the realm of public discourse, but also proposes to deconstruct our own personal realities as he does so. […]

Allan McCollum, “Matt Mullican’s World,” catalogue More details from an Imaginary Universe, Museu de Arte Contemporãnea de Serralves, Porto, hopefulmonster editore, Torino, 2000, pp. 26-33.