Thursday, October 11, 2012

Matt Stokes: "Give to Me the Life I Love" Whitechapel Gallery, London UK

Image: Matt Stokes Research photograph for Give to Me the Life I Love. Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery, UK

The Street: Matt Stokes

Give to Me the Life I Love

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX

25 September - 2 December 2012
Outset Project Gallery (Gallery 5) & 176/Zabludowicz Collection Project Gallery (Gallery 6)

The Street is a programme of artist projects, events and research taking place both in and beyond the Gallery. Artist Matt Stokes has made a film tracing a story set within the local Bangladeshi community.

Matt Stokes (b. 1973) immerses himself in communities to look at the culture that shapes people's lives. His projects develop into films, installations, archives and events that utilise the collective knowledge and skills within these communities.

The film Give to Me the Life I Love shows two stories mirroring each other across different moments in time. Iqbal, shown in the present day, has a curious friendship with Mohib, a teenager who works in his uncle's food emporium. Iqbal is also shown in the late 1970s, when a young person himself, caught up in an area beset by racial tensions. The story draws on accounts of the struggles faced by Bangladeshis when first arriving in the UK and the experiences of younger generations living in East London today. Stokes collaborated with scriptwriter Syed Rahman to weave these sources together into a story uncovering possible tensions between friendships and communities in the face of hostility.

Presented alongside the film is a collection of Bengali books spanning 38 years. Transforming the gallery into a library and archive these books underpin the significance of language to Bangladeshi identity.

The idea for Give to Me the Life I Love was formed when Stokes visited the 40th anniversary celebrations of Bangladesh's liberation in 2011. Over the last year he has searched archives, talked to people locally and travelled to Bangladesh, learning about language, music and activism.

Matt Stokes (b. 1973, Penzance, Cornwall, England) lives and works in Gateshead and Newcastle, England.

His recent solo exhibitions include Cantata Profana, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2011); Nuestro tiempo (Our Time), Centro Andaluz de Arte Contempor├íneo (CAAC), Seville, Spain (2011); The Distant Sound, De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands (2011) and No Place Else Better Than Here, Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany (2010). Recent Commissions include The Stratford Gaff: A Serio-Comick-Bombastick-Operatick Interlude, Art on the Underground, Jubilee Line, Stratford Station, London, England (2011). Stokes won the Beck's Futures Award in 2006 and was nominated for the Northern Art Prize in 2009. He is shortlisted for this year’s Jarman Award.