Newcastle-based artist Matt Stokes (born 1973) explores notions of collectivity and shared purpose through inquiry into the situations and beliefs that shape people’s lives and identities. Music – its history, subcultures and socio-political effects – has long been a central focus in his work.
Employing extensive research processes, his projects often evolve into films, installations and events. These outcomes hold collaboration at the centre of their formation, and by working closely with musicians, composers, and tight-knit communities, Stokes seeks to celebrate the groups involved, alongside challenging assumptions about alternative ways of living.
Most recently, Stokes has devised projects employing live action role play (larp), a type of interactive game where participants physically assume roles and act as a character within a set fiction. For Stokes, larps act as both works in themselves, and as prompts to generate ideas and methods for other works that draw from the bleed and ruptures between role-play and real life.
In 2017 Stokes created a multi-channel film for We The People Are The Work: a citywide project in Plymouth, which explored ideas of power, protest and the public. He has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include WORKPLACE London; Matt’s Gallery, London; Site Gallery, Sheffield; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville; De Hallen, Haarlem; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel; Zabludowicz Collection, London and Arthouse, Austin. Recent group presentations include IMT Gallery, London: an exhibition of activities involving role-playing and M HKA, Antwerp: the first museum exhibition considering the advent and aesthetics of rave alongside its effects on wider culture.
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