Matthew Anthony Batty - Issue Thirteen Interview

My name is matthew anthony batty, i was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and grew up in and around Florida. i currently live outside of Greenville, South Carolina. my artistic practice is as diverse as the landscapes and ecologies they are inspired by. i have a transdisciplinary practice, meaning I work across such mediums as video, sculpture, sound, social instigations, image-making, and curating. What are the main themes you pursue in your art practice?

my work explores themes of dark ecology, decentering and destabilizing humynity from the anthropocene/capitolcene/plasticene or global warming in order to move through, beyond them, justly. Utilizing the muddiness of the in between, i create new visions of coexistence and speculative ecologies of naturecultures, my practice explores fragmented moments within the anthropocene, and hyperobjects like global warming in order to offer a way to navigate out and towards what Donna Harraway calls the chthulucene, an epoch where it is acknowledged that humyn and nonhumyn are inextricably linked. i frequently am circling around the question, “How can we live in an ecological based empathy with the world around us."

Have you always had an interest in nature?

i have. Ever since i was a little kid. i lived outside of New Orleans, on the West Bank where the land was just starting to be developed. There were always rattlesnakes turning up in our yard, or my dad would take us fishing a lot. i wasn’t so interested in the fishing aspect, it was more of like what could i find, or catching frogs on the banks of the bayou.

What are your thoughts on rewilding?

i’m not sure what we should ask of rewilding, what is the base that which we want to return? Wildness does not return, it only grows forward, and sure doesn’t need humynity's approval do do so. So I guess I have a lot of questions when it comes to the idea of “rewilding.” That word gives reference to the “dominion” that humynity has wielded over the world, nature, and earthy resources for all of know his story.  It is not a monolith but a dynamic rhizome of interacting entities and life forms.  If time only moves forward, how do we get something back as large as “Nature”? Is it a time before europeans came to America? What about before the Jurassic? If humyns decide, isn’t that still a decision based on anthropocentric dominion over nature?  All i know is that it is a complex question, with a plethora of intersectional remedies. The greatest one, is changing the way we locate ourselves in the world, practicing empathy with non-humyns. 

How important are the arts in communicating the need for re-wilding?

i believe that art generally has the power to provide alternate perspective, desirably with multiple points for accessibility, for people to come with their own experiences and reach similar conclusions. So it is here that we can talk about the loss of being of the land, and the disharmony of the crisis at hand. It could be a bit delusional that art can save us, but i suppose it can start a conversation, and create moments where we can relate. Do you have anything exciting on the horizon that you can tell us about? i’m currently working on a curatorial project, with Tiger Strikes Asteroid, an artist collective/network that i am a member of. It is a pdf exhibition that folks can pay what you can to download the exhibition, and install it in your home or other spaces. The exhibition, ...And That Is Where A Bobcat Is Right Now , will be available October 1st. Other than that, the pandemic has kinda thrown everything around, and a lot of the stuff that was coming up is now pushed back to 2021, like a group show in Rotterdam, Volcano Lovers, which explores the abstraction of archives. 


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