Second Nature, Mary Mattingly's photography

Mary Mattingly Second Nature

Inflatable Home, 2008

Dark Matter, 2005

Awakening, 2007

Dry Season, 2007

Glacial Runoff, 2008

Loss-Accountibility of Top-Down Ontologies, 2005

Nomadographies, 2007

Pangaea Ultima, 2007

The Expedition, 2007

Artist's statement

I begin my work by doing research, drawing sketches, and building workable sculptures with utility and survival purposes in mind. The sculptures are realisations of this research, and are for use in the photography that I am creating.

In 2001, I started building Wearable Homes and would travel to different desert environments, to experiment living in them for weeks at a time, bringing along little food or water. As I improve the Wearable Homes, I have added systems to them that purify and store water, provide a place to sleep, monitor the wearer’s temperature, health, and provide floatation and storage for belongings. After a period of continuous moving, I wanted to make the wearable homes technologically advanced and fit for the world’s increasing number of mobile citizens. My work is largely narrative and illustrative of future conditions that large populations can and may face.

In the two series Second Nature and Time Has Fallen Asleep people are largely mobile in these self-contained clothing units as they travel through each of the prevailing climates of the near future: arctic, desert, and waterlogged tundra, illustrating different modes of survival. For these two series, I travelled to places that were and are in danger of drought, in need of water, or that have an excess of water due to melting glaciers or storms. I was able to experience hardships from lack of water and difficulties that communities face from changing climates first hand, to study floodgates and rising tides, and at times I was fortunate enough to be able to help in relief efforts. With the inclusion of sculptures, the images that I make border fiction and reality. Depending on the particular image and the sentiment that I want to evoke in the viewer, I use 3-D imaging programs and digital editing programs to create or alter initial photographs so that they may tell a story and suggest a feeling that borders between a warning and hope.

About the photographer


1978, Rockville, United States



Based in

New York, United States

Mary Mattingly studied at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Parsons School of Design, and Yale School of Art from 1996-2002. Recent solo exhibitions include Frontier, Galerie Adler, Germany 2007; Fore Cast, White Box, NY 2006; Second Nature, Robert Mann Gallery, NY 2006; We Go Round and Round in the Night, Feldman Gallery, Portland, OR 2005.

Recent group exhibitions include Future Tense, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY 2008; Video Visionen, O eins, Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany 2008; Bivouac, Art Omi, Ghent, NY 2007; Other Worlds: Fact and Fiction, Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT 2007; and the International Center of Photography’s Triennial, Ecotopia 2006.

Recent publications/articles: Le Monde Magazine, Village Voice, ARTnews, Aperture, A Public Space, Artforum, C Photo, New York Magazine, New York Press, Time Out New York, Photography Quarterly Magazine.

She has co-curated interventions called Waterways alongside the Venice Biennial and with the Istanbul Biennial. Mattingly worked on a project called the Waterpod, a floating sculptural living structure that will showcase new ideas, simple and effective technologies for water desalinization and purification, clean energies, and sustainable, autonomous living. It can be easily prototyped and remade in different environments, and with different available resources. It was launched in May 2009, showcasing the work of artists, scientists, humanitarians, and geologists as part of the Hudson River’s Quadricentennial Celebration.

Currently, Mattingly is artist in residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and an artist in residence at New York University. She just completed teaching a Master Class at the International Center of Photography.