Matthew Stone: The Body Beyond

The Optimistic Art Star Releases His First Book of Photos

Artist Matthew Stone shares these striking monochrome photographs of naked nubile bodies entwined and submerged in water from his collaboration with Japanese fashion designer Yuima Nakazato. Created to celebrate Nakazato's spring/summer 2012 collection, inspired by the perhaps contrary theme of a “utopian nudist colony,” the series was shot over two days while camping in a country house garden and has been released as a limited-edition art book, The Body Beyond, by Vogue Homme Japan's Junsuke Yamasaki. "I was impressed that he was much more interested in communicating his wider idea than necessarily ticking all the boxes of showing the clothes," says Stone of working with Nakazato. “I think that’s a smart way to work as it can expand what the clothes mean.” Since graduating from Camberwell College of Arts in 2004, Stone has shown his photographs and sculptures at galleries and biennials across the world, with his first major US show at Kathy Grayson's The Hole gallery in New York last November. Currently preparing for his contribution to the Marrakech Biennale in late February, here Stone discusses performance and beating apathy through optimism.

To what extent does your photography document choreographed events?
I’ve talked about images being semi-staged before, but it’s not my idea to suggest that photography crates a moment rather than documents it. The camera itself invokes a very specific context where people become aware they’re being photographed, there is this performative element. I’ve always thought of performance as about collaborative, unfolding narratives that have a predetermined trajectory that has my hand in it. I’m not trying to remove my hand, I’m not trying to stand outside of the process as I feel it’s a bit of a dated position to try and maintain.

What do you look for in the people you shoot?
A lot of the people I photograph are creative in some sense—everything from composers to designers and artists. The only thing my work is really about is collaboration and community, and thinking about how we can forge that in an authentic way. Ultimately there’s a community that has been globalized by technology. We’re actualizing what might have been determined in the past by mystics as “interconnected consciousness.” I think that technology is the materialized version of spiritualized desire—whether it’s flying through the air or communicating with people who are long distances away, or creating something that is a metaphor of the vast interconnecting nature of humanity.

What does “optimism” means to you?
The quote which I re-quote of myself is “optimism is the vital force that entangles itself with and then shapes the future.” I think all art is optimistic. Essentially, for me optimism is creativity, it’s the force that enables or motivates people to do something rather than nothing.

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