Fatal Surveillance

Matt Bahen

A Space Main Gallery

May 7 – June 12, 2004

Curated by: Ulysses Castellanos

Matt Bahen and veteran Toronto artist John Scott, under the moniker "Team Apocalypse", will present a collaboratively produced group of mixed media works, in conjunction with Fatal Surveillance, in the A Space Windows.

Matt Bahen’s new work consists of large scale paintings depicting snipers in glamorized Soldier of Fortune camouflage gear, juxtaposed with images of thermographs. The paintings are not a glorification of war, but an allegorical illustration of the relationship between the surveying predator and the prey. The snipers are frozen in mid-action. They are beautifully rendered life-size images that are painted with a vibrant palette applied in luscious impastos. Bahen fractures the picture plane into different compartments, occupied by thermographs depicting human forms that are flatly painted in bright colours. These elements provide a stark contrast to the rich textures and earthy colouration of the snipers. The subtext of this juxtaposition of snipers with thermographs is a socio-economic critique of the watchful eye of marketing and consumerism.

Bahen’s message is one of awareness. "It is important for us to pay attention to ongoing world affairs as we are both victor and victim in the same breath". With this new body of work, Bahen asserts the importance of scrutinizing the various networks and motivations of mass media so as not to blindly accept packaged information as truth. Bahen, who is no stranger to military history, (his father recently completed a book on the role of Canadian troops in WWI) uses this martial imagery as a symbol for the invisible threat of globalization "through its media outsourced reflection, and its decentralized, distanced and impersonal devastation".