Portrait

Images courtesy of Pandemonia.
Of A lady
Intrigued? You should be.
Pandemonia lets us behind the latex.

Words  Miranda Darling

I t’s impossible not to stare at Pandemonia.
Some do it covertly from behind their
cup of tea, their sunglasses ... most don’t
her hair is not ‘hair’ but rather a symbol
of hair; the same applies to the little dog
Pandemonia often carries with her. Indeed,
laughs quietly, “I have to be invited because
they’d spot me straight away!”
When I first met Pandemonia in the
bother to hide their interest in the two- she is as familiar as she is strange because she summer we had talked about façades, and her
metre-tall latex Amazon moving elegantly manifests so many of the hyper-recognisable fear that, one day, her mask would literally
through the lobby of the Chiltern Firehouse tropes of our pop culture. “The iconography fall apart in public. What role does anonymity
in Marylebone. Pandemonia sits graciously is probably based on Americana from the play in Being Pandemonia, I wonder? “It’s
– she moves with great care, her voice soft 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, which has seeped important,” she replies quickly. “All you see
and her words well spoken as I ask about her into UK culture.” Even the choice of latex is Pandemonia. You just have to deal with
name. “It comes from Paradise Lost, Milton. as a material, shiny and ‘plasticky’, with that, and think about that. If I were to show
I just like the idea of chaos – that creativity all its sexual connotations, is linked to a different person, I would destroy the image.
comes from chaos ... In Paradise Lost there’s our subconscious. Latex links meaning to If you see the person behind it, you will just
this palace where all the spirits live, and it’s Pandemonia’s imagery; it is made from the be fixated on that and not the product – it
created by Mammon. I think it’s built on sap of trees – from nature, the artist explains would be like killing it.” It also adds another
the head of a pin or something ... it’s tiny – and so has connections to the “nature dimension to the stories the media can
so there’s a [play with] scale, and I like the within ourselves that we can’t really control write about her: Who is Pandemonia? The
Mammon aspect – there’s a crassness to it.” – only temper. It’s something the conscious anonymity adds mystery.
Discreetly making sure we are not sitting mind is not really in control of,” she says. The latex covering reminds me of
perilously close to the open fire, I suggest It is “erotic and evocative”, bound up with superheroes and I ask the artist if it feels
that Pandemonia acts as a Trojan horse of the artist’s interest in shamanic ideas, and the different being ‘in character’. “I do sometimes
sorts, inserting herself into popular culture, archetypes that run through Western culture. feel different. Like my core is sliding around
all the while using its machinations as part The artist makes all of Pandemonia’s a bit ... and when everybody knows you as
of the artistic process. The latex lady nods clothes as well, having studied anatomy and Pandemonia, well you just become more
carefully: “Definitely. It turns into a critique how the body fits together. The cut-and-paste Pandemonia.” And being Pandemonia
of itself. And by performing Pandemonia, I pattern work is glued together, with ideas requires the participation of other people;
am feeding the media back their own imagery drawn not from current fashion but from it requires the right context, too. “I’m very
– glossiness, beautifulness, shininess ... You the past. “I find drapery very psychological,” particular about where I go,” she says. “I
look at all the newspapers and magazines Pandemonia says. “I never created this stuff don’t like to go to clubs, for example, because
[after an appearance] and see these people to look realistic – it’s all supposed to look the framework of wherever I go shifts it,
with Pandemonia and they might be saying like the image of it, the sign of it, the symbol and it gets out of my control very quickly.”
derogatory things or positive things, it of a person, which I think is important. It’s Pandemonia did recently go to Paris for
doesn’t really matter ... It becomes about like a three-dimensional drawing ... I used to Fashion Week. “It’s quite exciting, going all
them more than me.” make prints. A lot of my earlier work was around Paris. I only went to one show – it’s
The artist pinpoints June 2000 as the about language ... and I wanted somehow too difficult with the language, so I just did the
moment celebrity culture really began to to get inside the advert, to get through the show then disappeared.” Does Pandemonia
take off, with mobile phones, the internet surface of the printed image to the other side take the Eurostar? “I can’t explain everything
and social media creating a platform of the pixels. ...” she replies, “She was at Paris Fashion
where we could all manufacture our own “Pandemonia as a vessel,” she goes on, week ... People are thinking about it.”
history, language, and stories. Pandemonia “has allowed me to travel around the world As well as collaborations with behemoth
began to make work around these ideas and go to places I could just never ever go brands such as Camper and countless
and the messages being transmitted by the to ... and see the world from a different editorials for fashion magazines, Pandemonia
advertisements, the “forever-young, glossy perspective. You’re born into the world appeared in the latest Absolutely Fabulous
culture”, to create a celebrity around these with certain traits – like family, gender – but film, and on the gold carpet. “The Ab Fab
themes, “the meta-narrative”, as she puts it, then I can do Pandemonia and rubbish all premier was brilliant! I came to life. The
that would “reverse the subject and the object of this, do something completely different.” premier was better than the film for me!” She
in an art piece”. She takes a careful sip of her drink through had made a silver dress for the occasion, and
Pandemonia herself is constructed, the a straw. “I am describing a whole cross- says film is something she would definitely
artist explains, out of signs and symbols: section of society by living it.” However, she do again, despite the difficulties of being

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“I never created this stuff to look realistic – it’s all
supposed to look like the image of it, the sign of it, the
symbol of a person.”

Pandemonia for 12 hours straight. The Pandemonia can’t do, talk about things from always painting the female form, and in
moving image is another vehicle that works another angle.” Pandemonia shows me some advertising the female form is used to sell
perfectly for Pandemonia; it gives her a photographs of Snowball at an opening. things – the emblem of consumer society.
voice. “I always wanted to jump across “[For the dogs] it’s always about food and That was my logic.”
mediums. Making work for the gallery jewellery and money – all the crass stuff.” Pandemonia and her embodiment of
never goes beyond that,” the artist adds. For all of society’s obsession with surface, recognisable (and artificial) tropes also
“All the action is actually happening in the and Pandemonia’s playful engagement with engages with the idea that the repetition
centre, between all the people. Then you that, there is no one woman or celebrity of advertising images of an ‘ideal woman’
see celebrities and how they can transfer whom the artist identifies as Muse. Film stills, changes our view of what is normal. The
from newspaper to TV to film ... I always however, are a big inspiration for elements female form is the embodiment of our
thought that was rather unfair that they like Pandemonia’s hair. “I never [base] it on desires – men want her, and women want
could do that but, as an artist, you’re one exact person. There’s Veronica Lake, I to be her – therefore Pandemonia carries
always locked into something – a picture suppose – the ideal ... I’m quite old-fashioned. that charge with her, larger than life in
on the wall and that’s it. Why can’t we do I look at what’s happening currently but every way.
more than this? And now we have digital that’s not what I draw from.” As we go to leave, Pandemonia is spotted
media, we can do more.” Pandemonia draws from a deeper by a small gang of girls, about 10 years
I find myself smitten with Pandemonia’s archetypal well that includes the Makishi old, who are immediately drawn to her.
little pooch. She has three small hounds: tribe in Africa, and the Siberian shamans “You are amazing!” one exclaims, “Are you
Snowball (white) Snowbelle (pink, and the who are always male and dress as female for real?!” One mother takes out her phone
one I am privileged to be cradling) and a ceremonies. In many traditional societies, and there is the obligatory round of selfies,
leopard-spotted one. Pandemonia’s blog the feminine is seen to be more connected Pandemonia’s process in action, and so the
features a ‘dog’s eye view’ as well as her with nature and the subconscious. “In circle of my afternoon with Pandemonia
own. “I can do things through the dog that art,” Pandemonia continues, “artists are elegantly closes in on itself.

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