Changing Skins

Changing Skins, 2021.

Digital inkjet prints.

The latest COVID-19 lockdown prevented Jordan Stokes from visiting SLOT. His work arrived almost anonymously by courier. From his emails I can tell you that he “was relocated to Canberra for work recently” but little more. He wrote that by Changing Skins he means the “endless processes of change underway in large cities…a component of their nature and success…a process that is never ending.” His idea supersedes the need for a beginning, an end and, perhaps, any celebrated high points along the way. Reason here is in the passage from one thing to the next. Sold to us these days on catch phrases like - new, technologically responsive, environmentally self-sufficient, and politically correct.

Looking at his work I notice the pediment of a building across the road. It’s a fine building, long ago the balcony was removed but all the while the paint kept peeling, as it has done while I’ve watched the Plane Tree grow in front of it. Skins, like most things around here are waiting, waiting for the developers and accountants to signal GO. Jordan’s suite of photographs feels like a journey across town, a window, the new facade on the TNT Towers, a pedestrian crossing and a stairwell, too elegant for Kings Cross but the single fluro light is about right. There is nostalgia here that leaves the Joan Baez song, Diamonds and rust in my head, “Now your smiling out the window of that crummy hotel over Washington Square, our breath comes out in white clouds and mingles in the air, speaking strictly for me, we both could have died then and there.” 

But I don’t think Jordan has a journey in mind. There is no nostalgia here for him and no sequence to his images. It is all the same time. He comments, “The atmospheric shift of twilight is a key moment in the city’s relentless change, when urban life adapts and people venture out to play and explore. Nightfall casts the city in shadow, when familiar views become disguised.” In the endless passage of the present moment there is only now for Jordan. I can’t help thinking of the new Crown Casino at Barangaroo, that used to be the Hungry Mile and before that something like Barangaroo. When the time comes for the casino to make way for the next, will people cheer or seek the intervention of the National Trust?

Tony Twigg
Director, SLOT Window Gallery

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