When Pandemonia turns up at art openings and fashion shows it’s like Roy Lichtenstein’s blonde caricatures have been brought to life as a 7ft Jeff Koons inflatable. But she's not just another attention-seeking tranny, as well as sculpting all her own outfits, she's trying to call bullshit on celebrities, advertising, branding, and the way so much marketing depends on the pursuit of perfection.
VICE: Hey, How's it all going? What you wearing right now?
Pandemonia: Hey. I've just flown back from Athens where I was hanging with Charlie Le Mindu and Gareth Pugh at the ARGH! Monsters in Fashion exhibition. Right now I’m wearing my Marlboro dress. It's my favorite creation. It sits in a space halfway between reality and advertising. When I wear it I am imbued with the force of nature, the power of the Marlboro mountain symbolizing freedom. The design has an underlying message of purity, strength, and the force of nature. When I wear the Marlboro brand I am tapping into the mythology and psychology of the brand image and the alchemy of advertising.
Yeah? And what does that feel like?
As an artist I try and be a reflection of the world. My existence is unlikely to change anything, but it is likely to make the world more interesting. I'm bringing to life popular myths and aspirations, such as being slim, tall, and glossy. We constantly modify and make nature better than it already is. Plastic surgery and photo manipulation are good examples of the fact that we're all seduced by illusion. The virtual is better than the real. That's why we like films and computer games so much.
Would you say fame was ever a pursuit of yours?
Fame is recognition. Just look at The X Factor. I designed myself as a logo, so I would be instantly recognizable. If you’re putting your ideas out there, fame gets you noticed quicker.
So this counter-person of yours is the celebrity and you’re viewing this elitist celebrity circle from behind a mask.
When I pop up in celebrity circles I can see the mechanism of fame from both the inside and outside. Just as celebrities presented their image to the public, I present the celebrities my image. At least I know I'm acting out celebrity. My dog, Snowy, breaks the ice. People relate to him. Funny how people relate to an inflatable dog, isn’t it?
Does it really suck that much being a celebrity, though?
Fame performs the function of village gossip. Popular media has experienced a great deal of expansion during the last century. As a species we’re moving into a new era - celebrity is only the beginning. At least with celebrity it focuses us on a set number of people, it gives us an anchor. In the future will there be celebrity as it is now or will it become dissipated through endless social networks?
Shit, yeah. So what would you say you personally fear?
Deflation. Luckily there's not much of it around at the moment. These days Inflation is still all the rage. That's good for me, it keeps me buoyant.
Most of your outfits are made out of rubber, would you say there’s a fetish aspect?
We’re all, to some degree, fetishist over commodities, lifestyle, and brands. We are programmed to reach for the unobtainable—which I am—and fetish is that one step further. Rubber in my case is used as a metaphor: it’s elastic like cartoon skin and shiny like a new car or jewelry.
But why was it that you chose to express your work through a female? Was it purely the design side of things or is there an underlying transgender voice to your work?
In art, the female form has always being rearranged and reworked—I like to replicate the world’s mechanisms. For example, advertisers use women because it gets the attention of both genders. I am working with symbols and male and female are binary forms. The ability to experience the other, to be able to stand outside yourself creates a different perspective. In using the female form I am undermining the image and pointing to its construction. The very identity of Pandemonia is a fabrication.
Which designers would you say you’re most inspired by?
Rob Janoff's Apple Computers logo and it's biblical connotations. From the apple seed grows the forest, it’s an organic whole, and the logo is so simple yet contains everything. Another favorite is the Nike Swoosh logo by Carolyn Davidson which infers speed, victory, and the teacher’s tick of approval. It’s universal, people just get it.
So, if you were to have one designer design an outfit for you who would it be?
I met Philip Treacy at Boy George’s party and he wanted to do a collaboration with me. Sometime in the future you might see my blonde locks supporting one of his hats.
Awesome. And let’s say you were to bump into another version of Pandemonia at LFW this September, what would your reaction be?
Pandemonia has to stay unique or she will lose her irony and possibly become fashion.