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Donut is a twin dvd projection and 4 monitor installation about the drawing of a perfect circle. But the creator is a driver not an artist, the canvas is asphalt and the medium is a car.

'Donut' is the term used by young fast car enthusiasts to describe a circle of burnt rubber made by spinning a rear wheel drive car on the spot. It represents bravado and skill on the part of the driver who is usually part of the car cruising culture, one of Britain's biggest underground movements.


The cruising culture is loaded with rituals of post-adolescent masculinity - rites of escape, self expression and status. The car is both a sexual emblem, a private venue for early sexual experience and a way of forging a personalised and distinctive space in 21st century consumer culture.


Mike Stubbs is an observer of the idiosyncratic pastimes of British culture. His work records the esoteric practices of groups held together by the pursuit of an interest that has become an obsession. Donut is his first autobiographical piece. 


For Stubbs, brought up in Bedford, the overgrown interest of his own adolescence was cars. His memories of car culture are bound up with the identity of the town, from the Santa Pod raceway, deemed to be Europe's best drag strip, to surrounding manufacturing and design plants. To make Donut 


Mike returned to Bedford, 20 years on - now a father, an artist and a grown up - to document the history of his own obsession: 


"Since having the original idea for doing the Year of the Artist commission and kind of realising the piece, I suppose I’ve had quite a lot of self-questioning. Because you know the difference in perspective from being a – I dunno – like I was doing quite a lot of racing around between the ages of 17 and 20 of having too much energy and having to burn it off. And lots of angst and male frustration and unspent sexual energies to being a 43 year old as a late father with a nice little baby."


The film treats the goal of the perfect doughnut as a ritual performance, the climax of the work. Around this, Stubbs interweaves his memories of growing up immersed in the car culture of the 70s with imagery of contemporary local car enthusiasts - polished hubs and tailpipes, lowered suspensions, chassis illuminated by glowing neon, ‘Fast Car’ track day and what Stubbs terms ‘arsing about in car parks’.

Donut (Channel 4), made during a residency with young with local young car owners for the inaugural show for The Image Gallery for Bedford Community Arts (BCA) and then at the Moving Image Centre, Aukland, New Zealand, CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art), Glasgow and Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester.

A permanent installation was exhibited within the Energy Exhibition at the Science Museum, London, until 2017 and now acquired for their collection.

The work has been made in collaboration with Gina Czarnecki (editing and audio re-mix), Scanner (music) and Bedford Community Arts who commissioned the work with funding from East England Arts.

I am a Bedford boy  

A boy from Bedford

One in a million

I want to be a millionaire

One of millions

A boy from one town

A small Island

In England

A small Island

Wanting to make a mark

Wanting penetration

To leave a trace

Afraid of the bigger boy

With the longer stare

The faster punch

A bigger gun

I want my power turned up

I need 400 horses

Four hundred and fifty brake

Shiny and new

I want to make my mark

I want to look good

I want that girl


The one wanting to escape

The one wanting that boy

Wanting to make a mark

Wanting to leave a trace

Wanting to forget history

Creating new mythology

Away from here

Away from her story

But not too far from home

I like my independence

I want to live at the edge

I need to take risks

I need to exert control

I need to show off my control

I love to go fast

I love to burn rubber

I love to test things to the max

I love to push things to the limit

I love to fuck things up

I love to fuck

I love the simple throb

I love to forget my body

I love

I love to lose my mind

I love to move

I move through time and space

I move away from the centre

I move around the room

A comet burning brightly

Potential energy wasting

Running on the spot

I circle round the car park

I drive to the supermarket

I make it to the bottle bank

I make it down the pub

I watch my favourite soap

I watch car racing on TV

I dream of hot oil pumping

Surging gushing dribbling

From the broken oil cooler

Ripped hanging from below

Blacked out

Temperature climbing

Moving at speed

Lips moist

Boiled dry

Melt down

Seize up

Rocking my cot

I love the simple rhythm

An engine idling

My dump valve bleeds

Travelling in free space

Pure sensations please

Donut - transcript (2001) Mike Stubbs

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