An office cubicle installed within a gallery initiates the series of disjunctions and associations that characterise Glen Hayward’s practice. An object–maker whose starting point is the everyday things that surround us, Hayward’s acts of making, re-making and presentation variously render these objects and the world they belong to strange, hilarious, absurd, or threatening. Objects are plucked from the everyday world and remade in wood and paint. They are then thrown back into the world from which they came, now as art objects that perfectly replicate the original, devoid of any utilitarian or functional purpose they might once have held. Hayward endlessly complicates our relationship to the things that surround us, disrupting those divisions we make between art and real world experience.
This is not a cubicle made for work, but is the product of much artistic labour. From partition to ballpoint pen to computer screen, every element is carved entirely from wood. Placed within the gallery context, the work can’t help but comment on the value of artistic labour. It connects the work carried out by artists in studios with that done by gallery staff in cubicles in the back office. It challenges visitors who might come into the gallery on their lunch break, hoping to escape their own cubicles and workaday existence.
This is not just any cubicle. Working from an enlarged screenshot, Hayward has painstakingly remade the iconic set from The Matrix, where Mr Anderson receives the phone call that starts his journey to save humanity. Levels of reality collide even further in Hayward’s re-staging. In the film, the cubicle doesn’t really exist. It is part of an illusionary world designed to trap humanity within a dream state. In the making of the film, the cubical used was no more real. Rather, it was a prop used to look like a cubicle, but likely no more functional than Hayward’s wooden version. The cubicle that then is a replica of a replica of a replica, replicating something that never really existed.
Hayward has reached into and pulled something out of the matrix, and remade it by hand. In creating a physical object out of a virtual object, he presents something to be encountered bodily in real space and real time—even if not by Mr Anderson, whose conspicuous absence raises a whole other set of questions. The meta-world of The Matrix is expanded through the most unlikely of conceits and materials.