Mateo Maté (Madrid, 1964) uses ordinary objects from daily life, in many cases even objects linked to his own domestic routine, to explore how in late modernity the spaces we inhabit are racked with tension and violence, where what is private and social, political and existential, individual and collective mix together and become blurred. Interested in the potential symbolic value of the cartographic metaphor, Maté creates sculptural and performative spaces which, although they seem familiar to us, are also profoundly unsettling, as if they were plagued with latent dangers, perturbing enigmas. In his work, the Madrid-born artist suggests that in a context such as this one, in which our most immediate surroundings have become undecipherable geographies, full of threats and uncertainties, we must rethink and reinvent the notion of living, we must be capable of surpassing our gaze and concretising once again the spaces and objects around us.
Often recurring to irony, while seeking the critical involvement of spectators and also a certain randomness, Mateo Maté's installations – in which we can find anything from a sculpture made with piles of newspapers to furniture in the shape of a country, and including unmade beds and tables with leftover food that are visited by toy trains and planes equipped with small cameras – explore issues such as the construction of identity, the increasing militarisation of the domestic sphere, the experience of uprootedness, the relationship between art and life, the emergence of video-surveillance as a new narrative of contemporaneity and the internalisation and naturalization of power mechanisms.
Personal universe is an installation developed by Mateo Maté specifically for the Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos (in the province of Burgos), a Romanesque abbey still inhabited by a small community of Benedictine monks who, although they do not reject certain conveniences and advantages of the modern world (such as computers and medical progress), still organise their daily life according to the strict timetable established by the founders of the order. In the installation, different ordinary objects – some shoes, a pair of glasses, a book of prayers, a desk lamp – form a strange floating constellation that has a spherical wrapping. A small camera moves through the room and its mechanical gaze, fragmented and in black and white, is projected in real time on the wall of the room through which visitors gain access to the installation. Thus, by exploring the dialectic between the spiritual and the material that ecclesiastics use to build their world, Maté creates a space that is, at the same time, spectral and concrete, phantasmagoric and tangible, and that invites us to reflect on the process by which we build our own mental universe.