Curated exhibition of work by Matt Stokes (Newcastle, UK), at the Malthouse Theatres, as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival 2009.

Contemporary artist Matt Stokes delves deep into unique moments of recent British and American cultural history and identity, and investigates underground movements and music scenes, particularly the way in which events contribute to a collective social experience.

The film Long After Tonight earned Stokes the 2006 Beck’s Futures Prize and was inspired by the Northern Soul scene that developed in the UK during the late 60s and 70s. Simply put, Northern Soul was a term coined to describe the dislocation of obscure up-tempo African-American soul music to the north of England during this time. The piece documents the re-staging of a Northern Soul night at St Salvador’s Church in Dundee, Scotland, which was formerly used as a dance venue. The mix of real-time and slowed footage of the dancers intermingles with the gilded ornate religious imagery of the church, heightening the connection between the location and the participant’s activity as expressions of faith, commitment and shared purpose.

The two-channel film, these are the days, explores the punk subculture of Austin, Texas, which has long been a centre for music in the US. The work was made by organising two separate events. The first consisted of a free, all-ages gig held at a skate and music venue, and the second brought together members of several Austin-based punk and hardcore bands to create a soundtrack to accompany the silent film shot during the gig. The result is a portrait of a musical subculture that challenges notions of causality, originality, tribute and circularity.