Thursday, September 16, 2010

Matt Stokes: "Voice Hand Hammer Fire" Works Projects, Bristol, UK.

Voice Hand Hammer Fire
18 September - 23rd October 2010
Works Projects
Sydney Row
Bristol BS1 6UU

Matt Stokes constructs investigations into alternative movements and informal social groupings that often bind together audiences from disparate or unexpected backgrounds. Music subcultures have been central to the development of his recent projects, which have focused on their ability to shape lifestyle, beliefs, and create collective identity. Stokes' works begin with research and a process of immersing himself into the social structures of the scene he is working with, which result in films, installations and event-based works that hold collaboration and shared authorship at the centre of both their structure and philosophy.

For Independent State, produced by Foreground in Frome, Somerset last summer, Stokes was commissioned to create a work that would be made directly with members of the local community to be inserted into the town's Carnival. Stokes worked with the thriving local punk/hardcore music scene to conceive of a sculpture which would pay homage to the energy and self-image of a genre that might be thought of as a surprising cultural output for a small Somerset town. To realize the ideas of the fans and bands Stokes identified a distinctly separate group with which to collaborate. He recruited local blacksmiths and metalworkers to actualise the idiosyncratic design - an organic growth of conjoined icosahedrons welded from steel-plate, and bound together with steel rope forged by the blacksmiths and artist. The work was initiated during a weekend-long Forge-in Festival at which visitors could watch the blacksmiths at work, alongside the clamor of the live performances by local hardcore bands.
Drawing on Frome's heritage of skilled metal-working, the resulting crystalline form was put on public display for a single evening - paraded in the Carnival procession on a trailer towed by a black Mitsubishi Warrior pick-up truck to a hardcore soundtrack, and escorted by musicians and fans of the genre, creating a caustic rupture between the majorettes and kooky, decorated floats.

Presenting the work for the first time within a gallery environment, the exhibition at works projects provides another opportunity to see one of Stokes most unique projects - an abstract sculptural symbol for the rhizomic nature of collaborative creativity.

Matt Stokes
Voice | Hand | Hammer | Fire, 2009
Courtesy of the Artist and Workplace Gallery, UK