bio + statement


Matthew Papa (b. 1967 Detroit) is a New York-based artist working primarily in photography. He has an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from ICP/Bard College and a BA in Philosophy with High Honors from the University of Michigan. His undergraduate study of philosophy informs his artistic practice and he’s interested in photography’s ability to complicate meaning. He has shown in numerous group exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles, Berlin, Mexico City, Washington, D.C., among others and his work has been featured in Der Greif, Wired Japan, The Fader and W Magazine.

Download CV

Download MFA Thesis


Desire and the body are often subjects in my work because our ideas around them are rife with conflict. Working with friends, lovers, and strangers, I investigate relationships and open my subjectivity and theirs to new forms of engagement. Examining the power of images to construct knowledge, I bring to the fore that which is often glossed over or ignored.

I’ve recently become interested in how language gives and denies access to the experience of embodiment. Making pictures can be a fundamentally physical yet silent act. Moving in tandem with my subject, I explore photography’s ability to ground experience.

The inherent fragility of the body recurs as a motif. Sexual longing radiates from the photographs but is often tinged by the anxiety of power, emasculation and death. Being human is fraught with risk and uncertainty, a bind my work embraces.

Using Format