A Tale of Two Talks: Matt Browning and Isaac Layman
- Isaac Layman's Oven (2010), is an image made of many images.
Isaac Layman's artist talk last weekend was pretty much the opposite of Matt Browning's artist talk in the same gallery just weeks before. The shows were different enough already: Layman's big, spectacular photographs versus Browning's little hand-whittled wood funnels coated in sap. Layman's photographs are framed and protected behind glass, not to mention that they can be reproduced at will. Browning's fragile, paper-weight sculptures just sat on a shelf, a shelf built to cover over the fireplace—significant in that the little objects are highly flammable, ready to go up in flames.
When Layman said, "I've been finding—or fabricating—a sense of grandeur from inside the house," I couldn't help but hear echoes of Browning, who said during his earlier talk, "The attempt to do anything major now in a world full of major shit going down just seemed idiotic and really egotistical."
You can trace a similar split back at least to pop art (big! competing with mass culture!) versus fluxus/arte povera (less is not only more but real and humane), and it's certainly tru