Josh Bilton’s Undersong consists of an immersive sound and video installation in the gallery, and a self-guided audio walking tour that incorporates buildings and monuments in the area around SPACE, Mare Street. The project is rooted in the Isle of Portland in Dorset from where Portland stone has been quarried for centuries and exported for use in building civic, royal and ecclesiastical buildings, monuments, and banks.
Portland stone structures were intended to suggest importance and assert power structures within the architecture of society. Bilton draws attention to this in his work but questions the authority within the built environment. His videos depict the quarries on the Isle of Portland, and show what is left behind after repeated extraction of the stone. Bilton places his own body in the landscape, highlighting the relationship between the self and the material constructions of power and belief systems. The sound element makes audible the subtle notes and pitch shifts that occur in the sawing process. This undersong of the stones acts as a lyrical metaphor for their containment and service to society. Bilton invites visitors to consider their own relationships to the built environment in the walking tour of local stone structures he has devised in collaboration with writer, Holly Corfield Carr.
A commissioned essay on Undersong written by Holly Corfield Carr is available online and at SPACE.
Josh Bilton (b. Hertfordshire, UK) is based in London. His practice centres on the relationship between the self, society, and its physical manifestations. The resulting works in photography, video and installation shift between performance and documentary, constructing scenarios that both depict and engender subjective encounters with our environment and its histories.
Bilton’s work has been shown in the UK, as well as Europe and USA. He was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2011. Recent exhibitions and projects include ACAVA Arts Organisation, London (2015); The Photographer’s Gallery, London (2014); L’Aterlier KSR, Berlin (2014); and Rosphoto, St Petersburg (2013).