Matt Austin

Chicago photographer/artist, Matt Austin, has created a body of work, WAKE, that is a narrative about tragic moments in his family’s life.  This project is about to become part of an experiment in the sharing of work.
Matt received the Illinois Artist Council Grant to produce an edition of 10 of the WAKE books. Each copy of WAKE is made up of a handmade clamshell box that houses four hardcover books and a ledger. On October 27, the edition will be distributed to ten people familiar to Matt, but don’t personally know one other. Their responsibility will be to read the book, sign the ledger like a library card, and register their book number location by zip code on a corresponding website.The reader will then decide who receives their copy of the book next, pass it on to the next person, and so on. The website will provide a visual for where each of the 10 books are in the world as well as a waiting list platform for requesting a book to be sent to you.

Matt received his BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago  and is teaching for the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Matt is the co-founder of the open digital lab LATITUDE (be sure to explore this amazing site), staff member of ACRE Artist Residency, co-founder of the art installation project known as TAIST, and a member of the pedagogical experiment The Mountain was a Gift. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Catherine Edelman Gallery, NEXT: Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art, the MDW Art Fair, including solo exhibitions at Johalla Projects and the University of Notre Dame. Soon, he will be re-releasing the second edition of “/” with EJ Hill for their two-person exhibition SLOW DANCE at RAID Projects in L.A. this November.

WAKE is currently on exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI in the show The Kids Are All Right.  The exhibition runs through January where it will then travel to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA throughout 2013.

WAKE is a photographic and literary narrative that presents my account of several tragic moments regarding my family over the past 4 years. The story begins with e-mails between my dad and I exchanged over the days that followed a violent eviction from his apartment and my simultaneous arrival in Ireland to study abroad. 

In the following chapters, WAKE gives an account of three family deaths over a short few months, drawing comparisons between economic failure and physical mortality. While providing one of many stories of a family’s experience with economic devastation, the book poses an optimistic perspective of learned appreciation through difficulty.