A Traveling Show (Eine Wanderausstellung): Matt Keegan and Kay Rosen
Grazer Kunstverein, Graz
Curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen.
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
Curated by Dean Daderko.
A Traveling Show (Eine Wanderausstellung) is an exploration of language, linguistics, and personal communication. At its heart is a selection of mail art exchanged over the past eight years by artists Matt Keegan and Kay Rosen. Their correspondence is augmented by a selection of artworks that includes wall paintings, sculptures, and drawings that demonstrate the artists’ unique and individual approaches to language.
Keegan and Rosen are artists of different generations who have known each other for almost a decade. Nearly eight years ago, Keegan initiated a mail exchange with Rosen that continues to this day. Every few weeks a mailed package makes its way from one artist’s studio into the other artist’s hands; it may contain one or more drawings, collages, photographs, print clippings, and found objects. To date Keegan and Rosen have exchanged close to sixty packages. The items in them constitute an ongoing dialogue, a visual call and response that unfolds between two close friends.
A Traveling Show marked the first presentation of Keegan and Rosen’s mail art in the U.S. and followed its presentation at the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria. Its display alongside a selection of works by each artist is an effort to illuminate the effects and resonances of Keegan and Rosen’s exchange on their individual artistic practices. Like any good conversation, their visual exchange possesses continuity and surprises—current events, art history, and personal experiences are all fodder for their discussion. Spiked with generous doses of wit and humor, Keegan and Rosen’s mail art relates to, reflects, and magnifies concerns found in their individual practices.
United by a common appreciation of language and word play, Keegan’s and Rosen’s individual works demonstrate their diverse approaches to and use of language. An interest in conversation and social exchange often motivates Keegan’s interdisciplinary work. His efforts as an independent publisher have resulted in sought after editions such as == and North Drive Press that focus on creative dialogues between artists. His artworks often draw our focus towards speech acts and the nearly invisible codes and social contracts they reveal. For more than thirty years, Rosen’s artwork has explored language through varied and inventive visual, grammatical, and typographical strategies. Challenging how we read, Rosen employs wit and humor to release new meanings from found words and phrases. Identified by Rosen and redeployed in the form of precise paintings and drawings, these artworks invite viewers to discover meanings anew.