Optimism as Cultural Rebellion

Matthew Stone

At the Drake, where people come together in revelry and abandon, Matthew Stone’s images of entangled nudes amplify these moments of physical enrapture. Tightly composed studies by this British photographer, sculptor, and performance artist are installed across the hotel’s façade windows in various sizes, revealing intertwined bodies that recall the idealized forms of Greco-Roman sculpture. The scenes are set in striking visual contrast, akin to the effect of a strobe-lit dance floor.

In creating his images, the camera becomes a shamanic tool, bringing people together—often for the first time—to create temporary social sculptures. The stillness of the resulting photographs, and their expressive positioning, connects them to the sensual nudes of Courbet or the muscular figures of Michelangelo. In most compositions, the subjects’ faces are hidden, allowing the viewer to concentrate on the beauty of these twisted, lithe bodies. Stone is known for his commitment to a personalized definition of optimism that infuses all of his work. Two of Stone’s sculptures are presented in the hotel lobby as part of the group exhibition Outside the Frame, which also includes work by Lala Abaddon, Talia Shipman, and Andrea Wolf. His hinged-birch plywood construction creates a geometric counterpoint to the flowing naked bodies depicted in the photographs. His utopic visions convey a method of cultural rebellion, one that celebrates the ecstatic collective and rejects judgements associated with gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Presented in partnership with the Drake Hotel

Curated by Mia Nielsen