‘EXOTICA’ is a multimedia exhibition organised and curated by Varia Mhitarian and Imogen Parry – on for one night only at the Arch 402 Gallery (Hoxton), this ‘Dystopian Dreamland’ should not be missed.
Inspired by the artists’ personal experiences as well as the shared yearning of urban citizens for a slice of tropical beauty and the hedonistic possibilities that it brings, Exotica aims to create an ambience of idyllic decadence with a dark and unsettling heartbeat; combining music and visual art, immersing visitors in a party-like atmosphere.
I had the chance to speak with Imogen Parry about her artistic practice and forthcoming exhibition.
How did you become involved in creating art / was there a specific moment that you decided to pursue it as a career?
Definitely – I remember something just switched in my brain when I was about 15, and I stopped considering other career options. I always enjoyed drawing or having a brush or camera in my hand. Then I got introduced to the discourse around art and what ‘art’ is, and felt just as engaged with that as I had with making lines and shapes on a piece of paper.
You have co-curated (and are also exhibiting in) ‘EXOTICA’ a multimedia exhibition that examines ‘tropical sublimity and its decay as a result of human consumption and development’; have these themes / topics always been of interest to you?
My co-curator and organiser Varia Mhitarian and I have a longstanding enthusiasm for the aesthetic of tropical imagery/scenery. She in particular has an interest in the philosophical aspect of what’s going on in these areas. Her interest was sparked travelling in beautiful, exotic places that were permeated with foreigners (westerners) taking drugs, drinking alcohol and generally mistreating and misusing the land that they were temporarily inhabiting. “There’s something deeply fascinating and dark about the whole thing – the pursuit of pure hedonism and physical pleasure and the slightly depressing side to that – that most people from urban surroundings believe that happiness lies in a “postcard” beach setting and the free/cheap lifestyle associated with it.”
And for me, the idea of dystopian beach resorts (in its deliciously Ballardian way) has been a source of inspiration for my artwork, which usually pivots around the theme of a corrupted paradise, such as Bikini Atoll. My interest is more specific to what ‘Paradise’ really is today…something people aspire to that is becoming within reach. Woven into this paradigm is our current technology: especially Instagram and Tumblr. I think these sites function as taste trackers. I find it particularly interesting when images are borrowed, reposted or just taken from somewhere. They say so much about the values and ideals of the culture they belong to.
We combined our two particular interests to create “Exotica”, and it helps that both agree on the fact that a work of art should contain an equal amount of aesthetic and philosophical value – which is why a lot of the works that will be exhibited are vibrant and playful. Think Full Moon Party, 90’s Goa raves, Danny Boyle’s “The Beach”, – these are just some of our inspirations, along with many others.
How do the aforementioned themes play out in your own artistic practise?
I think of myself as essentially being a Pop artist, or at least engaging in the discourse of Pop Art. To me, the thing about the genre is that is deals with the mainstream and, since Warhol, it often looks at peoples aspirational notions. Like a lot of Pop Art, my imagery plays dumb. I like there to be a veneer of frivolity and seduction, but with something darker lying underneath. I suppose that’s the thing about this party culture – it draws you in but there is also a terrible and destructive wrongness about what is happening.
‘Exotica’ includes over nine artists and a variety of DJ sets; where did the impetus come to combine music and visual art?
The event being an exhibition of artworks all created by young London artists, we thought that it would be a great idea to combine an exhibition with a party; in sync with the playfulness of the artwork itself and the fact that a lot of the theme relates to partying. The DJs performing at Exotica have been given freedom in terms of what they want to play – although the exhibition does have a clear theme to respond to musically, we wanted to allow each individual DJ to express their taste and personality through their set.
What do you feel the London art scene is like for emerging artists?
Once you leave art school, I don’t think there are enough events happening like this where people come together and exhibit for the sake of it, celebrating each other’s work and collaborating to make something truly artistic and genuine. That’s where a lot of the impetus for organising this exhibition came from – both from a desire to put on a show about something I think is culturally relevant and to bring artists together to engage with each other.
Have you got any future projects / plans lined up?
Other than filling an entire pool with inflatable crocodiles and photographing it from a plane, no.
– Harry Dougall
The exhibition takes place on Thursday 3rd December, 6-12 pm at Arch 402 Gallery, Cremer Street, E2 8HD
FEATURING WORKS BY:
IMOGEN PARRY | www.imogenparry.com
ROGER SPY | www.rogerspy.com
ISABELLA FELLAS | www.isabellaeickenhorst.com
JOANNA CREE BROWN | www.johannacreebrownhair.tumblr.com
PARIS ACKRILL | www.parisackrill.com
DJ SETS BY:
JAMES SWAN AKA SWEATMAN D |
RICARDO BURRESS | https://soundcloud.com/ricardohinds
TIM PARKER | https://www.mixcloud.com/youllsoonknow/