The Wick - Interview Pandemonia: The Myth, The Legend The Wick - Interview Pandemonia: The Myth, The Legend
Monday Muse

Interview Pandemonia: The Myth, The Legend

19 July 2021
19 July 2021
We’d all like to be forever young, tall and glossy. Fortunately, for Pandemonia that’s a reality. Created mid-2000s by an anonymous London artist, Pandemonia is a vessel in female form for the artist to travel through society into the intersubjective world of myth and brand.

Beneath her polished latex exterior – constructed from symbols and archetypes – she’s like a modern-day Trojan horse, promoting discourse from within and providing a commentary on 21st century life through a wide range of art, magazines, film and social media. As well as being a permanent fixture (along with her dog Snowy) among London’s art crowd for more than a decade – all seven feet of her – she has also exhibited in London, Belgium and Los Angeles. She’s a pop icon and an artist, and she’s this week’s Monday Muse.

THE WICK:   The Wick: Talk us through a typical Monday.

Pandemonia:   I’m a slow riser; breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Usually, I have fresh waffles with fruit or pancakes, possibly scrambled eggs. I always do chess puzzles while I drink my coffee. (I have one of those mechanical minds that loves solving puzzles.) Then, if there’s time, generally not, I do some yoga.

From 10am onwards, I am in my studio where I design, make or paint new ideas for Pandemonia; time flies by, and there’s never enough of it.

TW:   What made you create Pandemonia?

P:   I started Pandemonia in the mid-2000s when various factors came together. I was bored with making flat art and wanted to make something physical and psychological. Around me, a change in society, celebrity and technology was converging. Phones had cameras and were connected to the internet; we were all now interlinked through social media. In this uncharted territory, I created an avatar and released her into London society. She was like a walking cartoon, a parody of the world around her. One that could equally work online as offline.

TW:   What do you think Pandemonia means to audiences today?

P:   The original inspiration has changed slightly over the years, partly because the world has changed, and I have changed. However, today’s world is moving towards Pandemonia; people are now creating virtual versions of themselves. After all these years, my work still has a strong real-life response because I made the virtual real. People are fascinated by magical realism. The underlying premise of one’s self, and our relation to everyone else is as current as ever.

TW:   How important is the power of anonymity for your art?

MM:   Pandemonia has a 360-degree persona; she is a media art piece. Somehow, I have managed to keep her character intact over all these years. An alternative identity would make it more mundane. I don’t think people really want to know; after all, isn’t the world already ordinary enough?

I always thought anonymity gives my work the extra dimension of one of those whodunit TV mini-series mysteries. Something the press could have fun with surmising who she might or might not be.

Personally, anonymity gives me freedom. Luckily, I have a wall of separation from that celebrity circuit thing.

“Pop Art is a melange culture, so it makes perfect sense to wear your art.”


TW:   As a product of Pop Art and contemporary fashion, how do these fields inform each other in your persona?

P:   Girls got to wear something! I designed the head, and so I just kept going with the rest of the body. Pop Art is a melange culture, so it makes perfect sense to wear your art. I dismantled these Pop fashion forms and rebuilt them into my own Übermensch. For a long time, there’s been a back and forth between fashion and pop culture, look at Schiaparelli, Gaultier, Moschino and, of course, Philip Colbert’s The Rodnik Band.

TW:   We’re living in an age of activism. What is Pandemonia’s cause?

P:   I am inside my work, so it’s impossible to separate activism from the art. Once I was considering raising money for Battersea Dogs Home – it would have descended into farce if I had gone ahead. However, where the lines are clearly demarcated, it can work really well. For example, the current English football team is extraordinary. They have literally turned yob culture on its head and have got the government in their pocket. They are showing them and their dog-whistle tactics up for what they really are.

In art, not everything needs to be explained. I would like to think certain values and ideas are aligned to my work but that’s up to the viewer.

TW:   What’s next for Pandemonia?

P:   I’m currently working on something with Rambert, so watch out! Going beyond Rambert, I had some paintings in a show in June, which were well-received, so more paintings are on the horizon.

TW:   You’re also a visual artist. What are you currently creating?

P:   I’ve been directing a fashion feature for Grazia China; staring, can you guess who? I am also doing all the post-production. My skills in pattern cutting, painting, digital art and performance are all seamlessly converging. It’s taking me into new visual creative territories. The only way to develop your own visual language is by making your work.

TW:   Desert island quarantine: what one artwork, album and book do you take with you?

P:   This is one of those impossible questions, so I’m not going to think about it too much. The first things that come to mind are…

Picasso’s Vollard Suite. I love drawing, printmaking and myths. The way Picasso reuses classical themes has always inspired me. Over the years, I’ve touched upon similar territory, constructing images based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

JuJu by Wayne Shorter. I know it’s not trendy, but not many people know I’ve always been into Modern Jazz. This is one of its pinnacles. Wayne’s compositions and oblique way of phrasing constantly searches to see things anew. It’s a reminder to keep looking and stay fresh.

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I re-read this during the lockdown. It has everything in it; it’s poetical, biblical and even funny. Some of those exceedingly detailed chapters on whales, no doubt, will come in handy on a desert island for something.

TW:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?

P:   Margaret Atwood. She’s simply great.

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