Matt Siber (b.1972) is a Chicago-based visual artist working in photography, digital imaging, video, installation and sculpture. With an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, he has had solo exhibitions in Madrid, Berlin and Chicago among other venues. His first monograph, Idol Structures, was published by the DePaul Art Museum, Chicago in 2015. His artwork is part of many private and public permanent collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, and The Bidwell Foundation. His work has been published internationally in publications including ArtForum, Sculpture Magazine, Flash Art, Aperture and EXIT Magazine. He has received grants from the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, the Aaron Siskind Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. Siber is Assistant Professor, Adjunct in the Photography Department of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
This body of work was created during my residency with the CPS Lives, Art in Public Schools organization. These images were made over two academic years spanning 2019-21 in the A.N. Pritzker Elementary School in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. I reside in Wicker Park with my family. My two daughters are students at Pritzker School. CPS Lives is a residency program founded by Suzette Bross that places artists in Chicago Public Schools for one-year residencies.
Collective Consciousness examines the objects in the educational space that make institutional learning possible. Thinking sculpturally, I aim to present these objects slightly outside of their usual context. Singular objects are reoriented, relocated, or photographed from unusual perspectives. Pushing the sculptural approach further, I create temporary assemblages of objects to be photographed. These constructions offer a wide range of possible metaphors regarding education, knowledge, human development, and the constructs of society. My assemblages walk a line between the verge of collapse and relative stability. I am interested in this tension as a way to think about the process of growing and learning as a young person. I also see a playfulness in these photographs that references many of the grade school approaches to making learning interesting and fun.
The pandemic lockdown hit at the start of the final quarter of my first school year in residence. This ended my production for the 2019-20 academic year. For the 2020-21 academic year, I have been working in an empty school. There is infrastructure and other materials in the school regarding the pandemic that are in place in anticipation of the students returning to in-person learning. Some of these details are present in my most recent images, adding context of the pandemic to the project.
To view more of Matt Siber’s work please visit their website.