Two page spread from “End-Begin” a zine by C. Matt Luther
C. Matt Luther
C. Matt Luther is an artist currently living in Milwaukee who works across various mediums, from traditional forms such as painting, drawing, and printmaking, to more ephemeral forms like zines and street projects. Collage is at the center of all of his work, as well as a critical attention to forms of mediation we are surrounded by in our daily lives.
C. Matt Luther interviewed by: Brandon Bauer
You have been creating a number of zines, each one is very individual- you do not have a standard title that covers them all. Can you describe some recent ones you have produced? What draws you to this form?
I am drawn to zines as a a utilitarian, cheap and creative form of expression. I am unaware of when zines where first created, but I do know that a lot is owed to Xerox and to the Xerox machine. I have recently decided to bypass the title of the object as “Zine” and call them “Urban Playbills” instead. I feel this term applies best to their function as a reinterpretation of advertising, politics, and life of an urban setting- like a play or living within a staged production. I still use the term zine because it is quicker to write and say. All of these are cut and paste and are influenced by current politics, culture, and my own interest and research in art and society. The majority of imagery is taken from newspapers, the rest from the Internet.
Cover of the zine “End-Begin”
This zine is about the saturation of media and politics in society and a general frustration with the bombardment our senses go through on a daily basis. More often than not, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of visual crap produced in this country through advertisements, the news, and political agendas. So this, as many of the zines is my own production of visual crap, but by way of condensing and reinterpreting what I see on a daily basis. We live in chaos, and chaos is what I try to produce, that feeling of living in a bad dream, and that maybe we will all wake up to find that everyone does truly care about the importance of life’s necessities like clean water, clean air, whole foods, and happiness… right, utopia.
Click End-Begin (2006) to download a PDF copy of this zine.
Weather Report (2007-2008)
The majority of collages were created around the same time as End-Begin, but I did not finish the zine until much later. Like most zines I have a collection of images and text lying around waiting to be used, and this is a great example. With the exception of the centerfold, all of the collages were created very quickly and around the state of a collapsing economy. Images of war and banking are used and scrambled in the zine as well as the Fox News logo. I created a linocut print for this zine of the Fox News logo with an under-banner that reads RX Soma. Soma is a reference to a strong pharmaceutical for relaxing muscles. Soma as a drug has a long history that reaches from India to South American cultures as a recreational drug. In literature it is the name of a drug in Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World that keeps society complacent.
Click Weather Report (2007-2008) to download a PDF copy of this zine.
Hand silk-screened insert from the “Weather Report” zine
Cover of the zine “Punch Gut”
Punch Gut (2008)
Punch Gut is a little more personal to me, but is not meant to be read as such. Punch Gut as a title refers to the uneasy feeling after being hit in the stomach, or the nauseous-ness of the state of our collective being. Punch Gut also refers to a feeling I have daily, not only from being sick of the shit humans fuck up, but also from my experience with the intestinal disease Crohns. Both seem to operate on the same level. The theme is monsters, the monsters we are and the monsters we create.
Click Punch Gut (2008) to download a PDF copy of this zine.
The Invisible Man (2009)
This one is a bit strange in its origin. I had been using the invisible man, and the story of the invisible man in some of my paintings, so he, and the story were very much on my brain. I was reading the paper one day and there was this story about this man Vern Seitz and how he may or may not be connected to the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling. The news paper story was just fucked up, like Fox News, bad reporting, poorly organized, and bad information. The article created guilt on unknown facts, on a recently dead man- who’s house had just been searched and the rest of the story was just strange. So I tried initially to find some photos of Vern Seitz and some information, but I could not find anything and the zine began to write itself around this real life invisible man.
Two page spread from “The Invisible Man”
Click The Invisible Man (2009) to download a PDF copy of this zine.
You have been also working on a graphic campaing against Fox News that you have been getting out in several ways- as a print insert in the Weather Report Zine, and on the street as wheatpasted flyers- how did this project get started, what was the impetus?
I am not exactly sure when I started my propaganda against Fox News, I am guessing that is was about 5 years ago. I have always been disgusted and disturbed by the news media outlets in this country, of what they choose to report and how. I believe that at some point they are all shallow and never report what is needed, what we the people need as information to make informed decisions about life, violence, politics, the environment, etc… It all comes down to the power of the dollar, and it seems news is not worth reporting to them if they can’t make a buck. There are cases where this is not completely true, but those outlets that are dedicated to covering important information suffer from a lack of funds and the scrutiny of powers that don’t want them around. As for Fox News, I think my disgust had always been there, but around the time Sinclair Media began and supported the swift boat campaign against John Kerry- that was icing on the cake for me. I want to make clear that John Kerry was not my ideal candidate for the job, I would have preferred the Green Party, or any strong 3rd party politics as a viable choice, but what Sinclair Media did and how they went about endorsing negative campaigning, as a owner and supporter of a major news outlet just pissed me off. News should be unbiased, we all need to know what is happening where, why, and for what reason, and without some kind of spin, just the facts…right. Fox News has become what country music is to radio- they present themselves as more patriotic, and they urge you the viewer to strive to be just like them. This is not news, it is entertainment… Fox News has blurred the lines so that people are confused about what is news, what is true, and about what it means to be patriotic. The community of individuals who watch these programs think it is un-patriotic to organize, to protest, to believe in or support a group like Earth First! and fucking shit up, which to me is the most patriot thing you can do- question the state.
Flyers on the street
Recently you started a website Fox News Sucks what are your plans for the site? Is this an extension of your graphic campaign or will it have a different focus?
The web site www.foxnewsucks.com is an extension of all these ideas. It is up and running, but I have done very little work to it. To get it to where I want I need some kind of help, on the tech side. I would like it to be a collective site that people can send artwork, links, and blogs to. I want it to be full of critical ideas, an open forum, and not just propaganda against Fox News- but an impetus to really start talking about and organizing around issues that are real and need to be addressed. It’s a full time job to start that kind of forum, and unfortunately I am finding it difficult to make the time. I feel it is important and it needs to happen, but at the same time the street is where I enjoy placing posters, flyers and info that pertains to the same things I envision for the site. I will continue to do street art that is anti-Fox, the web site is more about opening up a place, a site, and forum to other people that have the same ideas and want to express them.
“Death to Brain Cells” Flyer
I know you also work with more traditional media, painting and drawing for example, how do you see your work in those traditional forms relate to your more ephemeral work with zines, on the web, or on the street?
As far as my “traditional” practice, it has always been a little all over the place. At the moment I am a painter, and my focus is painting and drawing and developing what is my mind into paint and drawing. The root of that is collage- the act of assembling in my mind or on a panel, canvas, or paper through painting, drawing, and torn paper collage. Jamie Reid and God Save the Queen probably made the biggest impact on me, and the Sex Pistols album is engraved in my brain, but it runs a lot deeper than that. To me it is not just about using the media or mediums that you are used to, but using what you can to create your vision. Like the Internet is a vision for www.foxnewsucks.com. My paintings at this point are a release of mental imagery, of a build up of dreams, layers of life, and images I see daily. As I focus on all of that my research and collage ideas end up in my zines and street work, and it is some of my best material. It is an entire process of thinking and being I go through to get from one stage to another. Like having a conversation with yourself and trying to resolve all sides of a problem. Sometimes it is impossible, and sometimes everything in the process is important to the end. In the end one leads to another, if I do something in paint it may transfer to a zine, or a collage in a zine may turn up in a painting or as a flyer on the street, or an idea may stick only to the street, to the canvas, or in a zine, some things work in their space and only that space- that is always a hard decision to make.
“Eat Shit” collage on paper
If you are interested in collaborating or adding work to the www.foxnewsucks.com website contact C.Matt Luther at email@example.com