Sunday, July 05, 2009

Matt Stokes: "INDEPENDENT STATE" Foreground Projects, UK

Edwina Ashton

Bob & Roberta Smith

Matt Stokes

26th September 2009

Frome Carnival, Somerset

Commissioned by Foreground

Independent State is an ambitious participatory visual art project commissioned by Foreground. The project brings three internationally renowned artists to work with groups from Frome’s community from July to September this year to make major new works that will form entries into Frome Carnival as well as interventions into the town in the days leading up to Carnival.

Carnival is one of the most distinctive features of Somerset’s cultural identity and generates huge popular audiences to witness its outpourings of grass roots creativity. Frome Carnival is the first carnival in the Somerset Carnival season and is one of the smallest yet generates an audience of over 20,000 people in a single night.

Independent State will explore how we define social and geographical distinctiveness and achieve self-determination as individuals and communities. The new works will take a number of different forms, calling on the diverse and expansive practices of Ashton, Smith and Stokes and directly featuring the creative contribution of the participant groups, but will all culminate as floats and performances within Frome Carnival on 26th September.

Edwina Ashton’s videos, performances and drawings create oblique and absurd concoctions of character and narrative. They explore the allure and peculiarity of eccentricity and idiosyncrasy whilst using anthropomorphism of animals and insects to ridicule the perversities of British society.

Bob & Roberta Smith fuse humour and serious politics into an egalitarian art that uses the skills of the sign writer, pop group and workshop leader to cajole his audience into a celebratory but often acerbic campaign for more art and more democracy in our society. Smith’s accessible forms and irreverent delivery allow him to deliver a galvanising message on the emancipatory and political potential of creative endeavour and the specificities of identity.

Matt Stokes’ work is marked by anthropological enquiry and an interest in events or informal movements that bind people together. Music subcultures have been central to the development of his recent projects, which have focused on their ability to shape lifestyle, beliefs, and create collectivity.

Stokes creates ‘performance based’ investigations into the ephemera of alternative and underground cultures, through which he has created new art works that often produce moments of peculiar beauty through the juxtaposition of form and content, film and music.

Further information on the artists and their projects, images of previous works, information on Frome Carnival and the curators is all available on request. Interviews can also be arranged.

Please contact Tabitha Clayson or Simon Morrissey on 01373 888187 or email for details.