Matt Gale’s Soma explores the idea of the body as an ecosystem and critically examines the commonly held notions of both bodies and ecosystems as discrete, contained and distinct. It is a gentle tease about our tendency to oversimplify and about the fetish for neatly categorising things, often as a means to more easily comprehend them.
Soma comprises a collection of vessels, some containing living organisms, others containing elements intended to represent either an organic or environmental system. Some vessels specifically reference research into bioremediation (using living organisms to digest pollutants we have created), including mealworm beetle larvae eating polystyrene and a water fern (Azolla) used to cleanse fresh water. Other vessels contain species that challenge notions of what is ‘natural’. The installation plays with the idea of oversimplification with individual species contained and displayed as if in a zoo, but it is problematised by the tubes linking vessels together.
Matt graduated from Birmingham City University. His work Soma can be found at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial until 24 November 2019.