The Chicago Project IV: Nate Mathews

This is the last week for The Chicago Project IV exhibition [it ends on Friday, September 2], so get in here and see the show! In the meantime, enjoy three images by Chicago Project artist, Nate Mathews, along with his artist statement. If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit the show page and click on the film clapper next to his images.

Ten Hexagons, 2009

Ersatz is a photographic exploration about how architecture influences those who inhabit it. Architecture plays an important part in how people interact, where and whether they interact, and how they feel about the activity that happens in the space. People recognize when they do not like a space or if it is lacking something and shown in this work is the attempts to rectify the flaws in the design.

Ersatz: [er-zahts]: An artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute.

This work examines artificial features that are incorporated into publicly accessible spaces: commercial, corporate, and institutional, constructed environments in an attempt to mitigate or lessen the effect of structures that, while functional, are essentially cold flat featureless boxes. This collection seeks to draw the viewer’s attention to the presence of these ersatz elements in modern architectural space.

All of these images depict elements added to the environment to simulate comfort to those people who pass through these spaces. Some are of a more physical or sensory kind, such as a place for people to sit or something to look at. However, most ersatz elements relate to the connection of humans to nature. The place to sit or thing to look at becomes a place to look at nature or a representation therein.

—Nate Mathews

Stairs to Nowhere, 2009