Artists Exhibitions Exhibitions & Events Home

How To Settle A Payment On A Horse – John Mutter

Opening reception Thursday July 24th ~ 7 – 11pm

Yactac Gallery
7206 Ontario Street
Vancouver B.C

“I felt like a yak trapped in salt. Under the parched noon I felt cracked, and rootless. The wind whipped my my serape around me and blew across my tracks, erasing them.

‘A deal is a deal’ my father used to say, but he’s swimming with the fishes now, his muscles slick with scales. He can look up at the way the light hits the waves as many times as he wants.

The day was empty except for a horse that waited there, hitched up outside, looking at me through the corner of his eye; a tall grey horse covered with a layer of that fine pale dust that floated down from the white gyp hills and stuck to everything, the whole town.

I wanted to ride that horse just to get my fingers in those strings and feel snug, like gears rounding with the grooves.

On days like that no one moved. The air tasted bitter with a trace of old campfires.

That day no one stood in the street, instead they all went inside and just leaned against the wall, sighing. That’s why I knew right away it was bad, even before I heard the tap of boots on the long wooden porches, coming towards me, and the clanking of spurs. I saw him without even looking up.

The worst kinds of deals are made in silence, and already I knew it would end in a killing, and I wouldn’t even remember to bury him. These days the dead have to fend for themselves, with the cost of shovels being how it is and even the ground too hard and dry for digging. And I hated killing, but more than that I was tired. He stood there with his back to the sky, blocking out everything.

I tried to remember why I had come back to town again but my mind felt blank and shiny like a mirror. All I could think of was the waterfall, how I was wishing I had just stayed there. It was nice there, the dust didn’t bother you in the same way. There were some smooth round stones that were fine to sit on, and a coolness that floated off the waterfall that didn’t suffocate you, like everything else. That stream again, sparkling and swimming with fishes, so that I thought of my father and all the men buried at sea, now just barnacles left only to eat the sad flesh of the next.

And all because of something so tame as a horse.”

Presented on ipads and screens with headphones, the new works seamlessly combine still photography and video with music and sound. The detailed and immersive scenarios question humanity’s role on earth, drawing attention to both the positive and negative; exaggerated symbols and classic scenes from literature and film celebrate the extensive history of humanity’s creative output, while content and theme sarcastically and satirically point to popular culture’s disconnect from reality and mankind’s withdrawal from nature. Characters are played exclusively by Vancouver-based musicians and artists.

The temporal context of each scene is omitted, allowing audiences to animate their own narrative based on their understanding of clichés in human storytelling. Hints, however, are given in visual clues in fabrics, patterns, animals and objects that play reoccurring roles; music and sound create contrast, context and space.

New compositions were created by the artist specific to each piece.


John Mutter is a visual artist and composer from Vancouver. He is an active performer of both improvised and composed music and is the leader of the experimental alternative ensemble we just stole a car and alternative pop project JOHN MUTTER WAS RAISED BY WOLVES, both associated with Vancouver label MUNT records. He studied composition with Giorgio Magnanensi and Jon Siddall in Vancouver and with Benoit Delbecq in Paris after receiving a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. He studied visual arts at UBC and the School for Visual Arts in New York, and has shown critically acclaimed works in both group and solo shows internationally.

[slideshow_deploy id=’457′]