Wake Up and Hide
24 January – 18 March 2007
Wake Up and Hide is Gary Stevens’ second exhibition at Matt’s Gallery. It has developed from Slow Life - a five screen video installation commissioned by Matt’s Gallery in 2003. This time the slow relentless action, impervious to the spectators, has been replaced by fitful unstable images that seem uncomfortable with the thought of being seen. There is a symbiosis between the image and the performer; the action on screen is disturbed by the presence of the spectator in the gallery space.
In Wake Up and Hide, two wide static shots show almost identical interiors. In Hide people emerge from hiding places and begin to occupy the room. In Wake Up the performers are tense and self-conscious but begin to relax, sag and collapse, unless a sound disrupts this process and then they run for cover. Wake Up and Hide draws on Stevens’ experience with live performance. It is a deliberately clunky simulation of life, where repetition has variations and occasional surprises.
This new video work was partly inspired by early silent screen comedians, the Keystone Cops. In particular, by two production photographs showing their predominant states - in one, they are alert and ready to run, and in the other, asleep in the office. They are an unlikely source for a pre-conscious model of behaviour, but their condition offers something between an animal and a machine.