Matthew Ostrowski: Two Women

May 13 – July 8, 2021

curated by Marika Svobodvá

Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 10:00
to Thursday, 8 July, 2021 - 18:00

Vašulka Kitchen Brno exhibits two video works by audiovisual artist Matthew Ostrowski, in which a New York native deconstructs the film medium in a new artistic rendering, revealing the hidden meaning of the motifs, shots and messages of the original films. The exhibition will run until July 18, 2021 and is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm in Brno Art House.

The contemporary world of civilization is overwhelmed by static and moving images, visual characters, advertising, stories, sounds, an inexhaustible amount of visual information, the meaning of which is sometimes hidden under layers of information, aesthetics or other visual deposits. In his work, Ostrowski chooses from the initial visual images and sound perceptions and uses them as material that can decompose and extract only certain features from them - signifiers, which he further models, modifies and composes in a digital environment. Thanks to this process, one can perceive isolated characters removed from our ordinary frame, recoded in virtual space, outside of our normal perception in real space. The intention of the transformation of a cultural or civilizational object is to reveal and show its true significance. Ostrowski is, thus, in the true sense of the word, an artist DJ (according to the intentions of the French curator and critic Nicolas Bourriaud) who does not create a new work of art out of nothing, but integrates cultural objects into selected contexts and deconstructs their meaning in the postproduction.

In his artistic statement, Ostrowski writes: “As an artist, I am interested in revealing the truth behind our operations of mind, how we assemble reality and meaning from the torrent of perceptions and feelings we are confronted with at every moment of existence. By recontextualizing concrete sonic and visual information, these works, whether open-form or fixed, seek to function as environments in which to exercise one’s attention and inventiveness, to create a place and time in which one can engage with what Richard Foreman calls “the process of consciousness colliding with the world.”

Video is one of the many audiovisual media that Ostrowski has been working on for a long time. He uses it as a tool through which he interprets or deconstructs the meaning of existing films and transforms them into distinctive works of art. Ostrowski perceives the film medium as an object, a material that can be manipulated in his own creative work through computer programs and algorithms. Film fields, a plot divided into individual segments, serve the author as a starting point for another process in which algorithms search for and isolate key shots or motifs that carry the meaning of the entire film. The independence of these elements / characters and their removal from the framework and scenery of the story, reveals their true meaning and deconstructs the work in a new artistic representation.

In Scarlet (t) made in 2012, the author focuses merely on the lips of the main character of the film Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003, directed by Peter Webber), played by Scarlett Johansson. The main motif is an observation, or simply watching: the lips of Scarlet Johansson – that are watched – may be understood as a kind of a fetish, an object of unfulfilled desire, both among the actors of the film and in relation to the viewers and their passive role as observers. 

A more recent work from 2020, entitled as Joan and her Persecutors, is based on the famous silent film Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, directed by CT Dreyer), filmed in long shots capturing the characters from above, focused on the expressions of human faces and emotions mirrored in those faces. Ostrowski intensifies this concentration on a range of expressions and emotions further and makes the faces stand alone in a separate composition, taken out from a linear passage of time.

Matthew Ostrowski has worked as a composer, performer and installation artist, exploring work with music, multimedia, video and theater. Using digital tools and formalist techniques to engage with quotidian materials — sonic, physical, and cultural – Ostrowski’s work explores the liminal space between the virtual and phenomenological worlds. His work, which has been seen on six continents, ranges from live electronic performance to installations incorporating video, multichannel sound, and computer-controlled objects. He is a freelance developer of interactive technology for artists, and teaches at NYU and Columbia University.

His work ranges from live electronic performance to installations incorporating video, multichannel sound, and computer-controlled objects. Ostrowski has collaborated with a large number of artists in the US and abroad, including David Behrman, John Butcher, Diamanda Galás, Nicolas Collins, Anne LaBerge, Andrea Parkins, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, and many others. He was composer-in-residence for the MacArthur-award winning choreographer Elizabeth Streb, and has designed interactive technologies for performing and fine artists ranging from Laurie Anderson to Martha Rosler. He regularly performs in the duo KRK, with Prague-based contrabassist George Cremaschi, and with R. Luke Dubois in the multimedia duo Fair Use.


The exhibition is realizied with the kindly help of Brno House of Arts, Statutory City of Brno, and the Ministery of the Culture of the Czech Republic.