For two years, San Diego artist Matthew Bradley researched conspiracy theories, mainly those swirling around the so-called Illuminati and alternate versions of history, which some folks believe explain today's corporate and political power structures. The result of that work can be seen in the current exhibition Sacred Geometry for a Profane Existence at Helmuth Projects in Bankers Hill.
Helmuth Projects' Josh Pavlick invited Bradley to move into the experimental gallery space (1827 Fifth Ave.) several weeks before the exhibition opened on March 1. Bradley used the extra time in the space to carefully plan out and execute a gallery-wide, site-specific installation tackling the odd and interesting subject of conspiracies and the symbolism and philosophies surrounding them.
"I just went down the rabbit hole with it," Bradley says, sitting on a stool positioned in the far back corner of his exhibition. He explains that he's fairly cynical when it comes to buying into far-flung theories. "I didn't have any intention with this show to be preaching or delivering any kind of message as to what I do or don't believe. I don't think that's particularly important."
What is important, he says, is providing a provocative space where conversations can happen. Bradley will discuss the show at a closing reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the gallery.
"I think there are some fascinating stories, and they are as varied as there are numbers of people who believe them," he says.
Bradley tucks well-researched narratives into every sculpture, video and site-specific painting and installation in the exhibition. The Internet Explorer logo emblazoned on the wall, for example, leads to a conversation about the widely held belief that contemporary corporations can't help dropping hints about their otherworldly origins (the IE logo includes a reference to Saturn's rings).
Obelisks and pyramids made of cardboard and duct tape are positioned throughout the gallery, lights on the ceiling replicate constellations and a mirror on the floor is placed beneath a column so its reflection doubles the beam's height—the whole show, in fact, is in thoughtful geometric alignment. An exhibition coordinator at the New Children's Museum, Bradley spends his days helping other artists realize their visions within a space. This solo show has allowed him to bring his own ideas to life, and his experience and technical skills show.
"I like the idea that you can discover things for yourself when you walk in here," Bradley says.