Stefan Clarke was born in Jamaica on March 17, 1977. He studied Sculpture at the Edna Manley College, from which he graduated in 1996. He has worked there since then as a Sculpture Technician and describes himself as a sculptor, photographer and “artistic hustler.” He is actively involved in event and set design. He says about himself: “I am an asshole, a cynic and a pessimist. don’t expect you’ll like me. i don’t really care. i live for the here an’ now.”
Stefan Clarke treats the body as a living sculpture, or rather, as he puts it, as a blank canvas. He does this with his own body, which is an evolving performance piece, with its “work in progress” tattoos, piercings, changing hairstyles, and self-designed jewellery – all of which have personal significance and map out his life story in visual forms. Marlon James’ photographic portraits of Stefan, some of which are included in Marlon’s adjoining exhibition, document his changing appearance and provocative presence in the Jamaican environment. The works selected to represent Stefan reflect a similar concern with the body as object and consist of two parts: a group of body sculptures and masks made from wood and metal, and a group of photographs of female models wearing the structures. The photographs are still and brooding and all tokens of individuality are removed from the models, whose faces are covered with featureless masks or draped fabric and the focus is on their body, which exists in dialogue and in tension with the objects worn. The juxtapositions are uncanny – soft, pliable and vulnerable skin versus indifferent object structures that can be read as cage or armour – and simultaneously invoke constraint and protection, and victimization and empowerment. The ambiguity is obviously deliberate and contributes to the evocative power of the objects and images.
— Veerle Poupeye