Mat Glenn – Earn Your Stripes, 2020.
Earn Your Stripes
September 12–October 24, 2020
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Earn Your Stripes is an ongoing project by Mat Glenn investigating the visual language of human-nonhuman opposition in the natural landscape. Reified by the outdoor-equipment-industrial-complex, the market inspires humans to control and conquer landscapes using a specific material language of straps, nylon, taped seams, backpacks, synthetic down, Gore-Tex, and zippers. This exhibition re-appropriates these materials to destabilize the notion that human life-force is in opposition to nature. Through this series of sculptural works, life-force and nature are enmeshed into assemblages of synthetic and organic materials, which composes our experience in the exhibition.
Earn Your Stripes creates a space where life-matter and subject-object binaries are rendered obsolete. Hybrid moments appear in this obsolescence, with life and matter vibrating between human and nonhuman references. Hybridity celebrates the unlearning of human exceptionalism by showing us that life-force is not exclusive to human bodies. Instead, it exists within these assemblages of co-existing living and non-living forces. Something like an incorporeal web connecting us to our surroundings, the work suggests that our life-force only exists insofar as it happens in our relationships to things, living and non-living.
Each human is a heterogeneous compound of wonder-fully vibrant, dangerously vibrant, matter. If matter itself is lively, then not only is the difference between subjects and objects minimized, but the status of the shared materiality of all things is elevated.
Such a newfound attentiveness to matter and its powers will not solve the problem of human exploitation or oppression, but it can inspire a greater sense of the extent to which all bodies are kin in the sense of inextricably enmeshed in a dense network of relations. And in a knotted world of vibrant matter, to harm one section of the web may very well be to harm oneself. Such an enlightened or expanded notion of self-interest is good for humans. 
Earn Your Stripes is indebted to the writings of Jane Bennett, who created the conceptual space the artworks occupy, as well as the Syilx/Okanagan territory where Glenn’s understanding of the natural world was created.
 Bennett, Jane. “The Force of Things.” Essay. In Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things, 11–12. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
I’m told our age and expansion is a dense exhale. At some point soldered by a violent incandescence, then hot distention, and now atomies spattered with remnants of a crucial heavenly decay. Sometimes I can still taste the pennymetal in my mouth, living life as a residue extant rarity. But calcification is not causation, and we never earned our origin.
Versions of matter domination crumble when you realize what we see accounts for 4% of what there is. We respond to a horrific complexion by polishing our own; glinting human ascendance. As if a machinated lexicon and gore techs could choke meaning out of an impractical corporeity. As if wetware keeps us from being wet.
Yet our ultra instance, this slight articulation of carbon valency and other gossamer, has figured a lust cause to be or become. Trace senses waxing haptic for total material subordination— bending dust to subdue dust.
I like to think of a core domain that does not care to transcend. Without limit and without centre, it dislocates, disintegrates, then dissolves.
– Nivedita Iyer
Mat Glenn is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a major in Visual Arts and a minor in Art History. Glenn is an emerging artist working and living in the unceded Syilx/Okanagan region of British Columbia. Specializing in sculpture, installation, printmaking and digital media, his practice explores new-materialism and objecthood in the context of ecological thought. Glenn has curated exhibitions in the Okanagan including Chasten My Fantasies of Human Mastery at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art. This year he exhibited Fear Frequency at the Vernon Public Art Gallery, and the two-person exhibition Creative Growth Centre for Spiritual Nourishment at the Kelowna Art Gallery with Lucas Glenn.
Nivedita Iyer has an academic background in Communications, as well as a professional background in cultural media and writing. Her interests include reading in philosophy and physics, and playing music. In 2016, she co-founded Malform Press, an artist-run publishing platform and events initiative focused on interdisciplinary conversation within the arts.
TNG gratefully acknowledges its home on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region, including the Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Piikani and Siksika), Métis Nation of Alberta Region III, Stoney Nakoda First Nation (Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley), and Tsuu T’ina First Nation. TNG would also like to acknowledge the many other First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have crossed this land for generations.