The Metaning is an art project by Matt Godden - a 22 page (including covers) gallery-wall-scale graphic novel, with pages approximately 113x82cm in size.
To the best of our knowledge, having spoken with creators, publishers and academics specialising in Australian comics, this is the first work of this nature (a full-length, single-creator, wall-scale work) created in Australia, though we're happy to hear of preceeding works
The work was created as a response to the difficulty faced when trying to come up with a project acceptable to the drawing department of a traditional art school (who, to be fair, assessed it quite highly).
Narratively, The Metaning is an autobiographical journey through the events and decisions that lead to the creation of the work itself. It covers the struggle for legitimacy that comics & sequential art face, especially in the context of modern drawing practice, which seems to be able to regard almost anything as "drawing". The story is presented as an alternation between the real-world studio struggles of the artist, and the parallel internal fantasy universe of the artist as omnipotent destroyer and creator.
An important aspect of the project, central to its nature as a meta-work, is that the eventual exhibition of the project had a performative aspect. It wasn't just a chance to see the original images in person, rather the exhibiton forms part of the argument of Comics as Fine Art, and all of those who attended the opening night, became in effect a part of the larger work, which was the performance of creating and exhibiting a work of comic art in a Fine Art context.
The work is deliberately about trying to ride both sides of the divide between sincerity and cynicism, until there isn't really a distinction between them. It is simultaniously a cynical mechanism to tie together dispirate works into a single theme to fulfil a quota for an assessment event, and a sincere attempt to create a genuinely considered piece of art. To that end it has both an internal argument expressed within the text, and a structure in terms of the physical nature of the pages, how they were made, and how they were exhibited as a performative meta-work, that is intended to play within that realm of when parody becomes indistinguishable, due to the care and technical skill with which it is performed.
Hopefully that sincerity of intent comes across within the work when read, rather than experienced, or participated within as an attendee of the exhibition.
The exhibition of The Metaning was held from July 3rd to the 25th 2015, at the Carlton Project Space, as a part of the Chippendale Creative Precinct, in Sydney. Australia
The show was opened by Dr Michael Hill, head of Art History & Theory at the National Art School, and Tim McEwan, Co-Founder and Art Director of Supanova Popculture Expo.
The Metaning is available in Fixed-Layout EPUB format, published by Golgotha Graphics. Buy here.
This digital edition was produced, in part, with a grant from The Australia Council's ArtStart programme.