Matthew Offenbacher

The Lion Side of Under the Porch
INCA: 2 West Roy St. Seattle, WA, 98110
Exhibition: July 17 – August 20, 2016
Opening: Sunday July 17, 6–8pm
Opening hours: Wednesday-Saturday 4-8pm
Curated by Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas


In the biblical story of Jonah, a prophet responds to God’s call by fleeing and hiding in a boat. Cast overboard by frightened sailors, he ends up in the belly of a whale. In mainstream interpretations, Jonah is swallowed by the whale because he disobeyed God and must suffer until he acquiesces. This equates the whale belly with spaces of institutional power that seek obedience by instilling self-discipline. Matthew Offenbacher dislikes this interpretation. Instead, he proposes that the whale belly represents a space of transformation through shared experience.

Offenbacher’s whale is made of bent PVC pipe. If you bump into it, it sways, so he has hung chimes and bells from its spine, turning its body into a kind of musical instrument. During the exhibition, there will be a series of performances and discussions inside the whale. These events will be free and open to the public. There will be performances of Byron Au Yong’s music, Melanie Noel will present a new poem, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum will lead a discussion, and Dylan Ward will debut a dance performance. Dates and times are below.

The exhibition also features an unusual English translation of the Book of Jonah that incorporates the cantillation used to chant the story aloud. This translation is based on the work of French poet and linguist Henri Meschonnic. Among the many legacies of French postmodernist thought, the assertion that there is an arbitrary relationship between signified and signifier has facilitated the proliferation of systems that lead to mass disenfranchisement.  Offenbacher is excited about Meschonnic’s ideas because he refuses this duality of the sign. Where is meaning in language? Meschonnic asks. Not in words and what they stand for, but in their rhythm—in the fluid, improvisational forms of human subjectivity that arise from bodies, and are shared within communities.



July 17, 6–8 pm: Opening reception

July 17 – August 20: Water Partitas by Byron Au Yong, performed episodically during gallery hours

August 3, 6 pm: Special performance of Byron Au Yong’s Water Partitas

Aug. 12, 7 pm: Presentation of a new poem by Melanie Noel

Aug. 17, 7 pm: Discussion of the Book of Jonah with Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum

Aug. 19, 8 pm: Dance performance debut of Jonah by Dylan Ward

All events are free and open to the public.



Matthew Offenbacher seeks constructive, positive positions at often difficult intersections of individuals, communities and institutions. His work has been called “freakishly egoless”, vulnerable, funny and queer. Offenbacher lives in Seattle, Washington. Recent exhibitions and projects include The V&A at Veronica, Deed of Gift at the Seattle Art Museum, and Flower Painting at Lather Daddy Laundromat.

Byron Au Yong creates musical events the Huffington Post calls “audacious, compelling and hugely imaginative.” Examples include TURBINE, created for the 200th anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works and Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas, performed in 64 waterways throughout King County. Honors include a Creative Capital Award and Time Warner Foundation Fellowship.

Rachel Nussbaum is the Rabbi and Executive Director of Seattle’s Kavana Cooperative, which she co-founded in 2006. Rachel has served on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Program, the Bronfman Youth Fellowships and Rabbis without Borders. She has received many accolades, including appearing on Newsweek Magazine’s list of “America’s Top 50
Influential Rabbis”.

Melanie Noel is the author of The Monarchs published by Stockport Flats in 2013. Her poems have appeared in Weekday, LVNG, La Norda Specialo and The Arcadia Project. She co-curated APOSTROPHE, a dance, music, and poetry series, and curated Impala, a reading series that took place in her grandmother’s car. She sometimes teaches experiential workshops meant to invoke synesthesia and an altered sense of scale.

Dylan Ward has produced original dance, performance and film for over a decade in Denver, Colorado, Cusco and Lima, Peru, and Seattle. His dance project Sleep Nod has received support, awards and residencies from the Martin Family Foundation, The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, the University of Washington departments of Dance and Drama. Last month, Sleep Nod debuted Sophia at On The Board’s NW New Works Festival.

INCA (Institute for New Connotative Action) is an artist-run initiative founded and directed by Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas. Bergman/Salinas believe art thrives outside of commercial interests: “INCA is independent and has nothing to lose. INCA supports independent, experimental, activist, poetic, literate, and collaborative art by artists. INCA is run on generosity and collaboration.”



Would you like to perform in the belly of a whale? As part of Matthew Offenbacher’s exhibition at the INCA Institute, the musical score for Byron Au Yong’s Water Partitas will be in the belly of a whale sculpture. As part of the show, violin, viola, cello, bass, and other string players are welcome to play these pages whenever INCA is open. A TBA date/time when multiple string players converge on the belly of the whale will be announced.