Matt Haffner + bio | statement | press

The works in The Old Gods and Their Crumbling City engage with the mythology and oral narratives of ignored and failing gods that live amongst us. These deities rely on a community’s beliefs, legends, and verbal traditions for their power and persistence. As the population’s faith in them wanes, the deities become frail, forlorn, and destitute.  Gods,  giants, demons, specters, banshees—all born of myth and legend—are represented literally in their manifested forms. Symbolic animals embody characters of these deities: the crow and the raven as messengers, guides, and watchmen of the   world;   the dog as guardian, protector, and  symbol of loyalty; and the cockroach signifying everlasting life, persistence, and rebirth. These creatures are not only woven through mythical tales, but are also found in the inner-city environment, roaming feral in the streets, sitting overhead on power lines, and scuttling about in the cracks and crevasses.

This  work  combines  oral  myth-making  with  contemporary  culture  and  explores the way we examine ourselves through the stories we maintain and the tales we convey, whether historical or current.

This exhibition of mixed-media works is constructed of salvaged and scavenged urban materials: discarded street signs, repurposed cardboard, wheat-pasted newspapers, reclaimed plywood, and rusted  metal. These rejected materials represent the debris of a crumbling metropolis in constant need of preservation. They reference the experience of walking through a compact and dense urban environment in which sneakers hang from power lines, street signs are bent and torn from their moorings, downspouts are rusted, and a layer of soot and grime covers the bricks of nearby buildings. Our city and the city of the gods are one and the same. We are the gods who inhabit the crumbling city.

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