In the realm of contemporary art, there are those who push boundaries, challenge conventions, and use their creative expression to provoke thought and emotion. Known for a multidisciplinary approach that traverses sculpture, performance, and painting, Parma Ham’s work delves deep into the realms of identity, gender, and societal perception. In conversation with Sade English, the director ahead of the Anticlone Takeover, the artist talks about the vision brought to the event.
Your identity is clearly a subject matter which you explore throughout your multidisciplinary practice and works. As an individual, can you pin-point your need and desire to express that to the world?
My work exists as a form of storytelling, and I use my voice to share my lived experience. I don’t always chose to be political, but the themes in my work such as gender, sex, and desire are often stigmatised by society so dialogue surrounding it makes it tacitly political. My being exists on the fringes of society, and perhaps many see that as a negative, but i’m here to share the beauty in it. Putting work out took me a bit of time to build up the confidence of believing my voice is valid. After viewing art, and from working in the artworld, I gathered a greater sense what art is, and I realised that the work according to my taste, sensibilities, and topics isn’t all that represented so I should be the one to create it.
Your first works which were platformed via Anticlone Gallery were sculpture, beginning with a silicone light series. What is it about these sculptures that made it become your first medium to explore, and since then what has become your favorite medium?
I started making art with my body via performance because it’s the most relatable and familiar, but also economical. I then branched out into making objects that were wearable art, before removing my body and creating just objects that have a resemblance to the body. The body has always been a central theme in my work, and I utilise all mediums in my dissection of body distortion. My interest in the body begun with my own transness and queerness, but it evolved into bigger questions surrounding the body regarding posthumanism when we consider how the idea of the body is manipulated through technology, desire, and the imagined self. Even if my work may have this niche focus, owning a body is universal, and my investigation should transcend my own experience so a broader audience can relate.
You have been an empowering force within the underground scene, from making the performance space Wraith, to being a figure within the LGBTQ+ community. You are invested in promoting your own work, but also the work of others. What do you feel, has been the pivotal point you recognised this?
I realised that even for me with the platform and network that I have, I was struggling to find places to show my work. There’s many reasons for this, but particularly for early career artists, which I still am, it’s difficult to get a way in, particularly when you don’t come from an affluent background or received art education. Then there is the nature of my work, which is not only niche but also risqué to a mainstream audience.
To combat these problems I do not wait for opportunities to come along, so I have often created platforms to exhibit work, knowing that the platform would be useful for others as well. I’m excited to show my work, but I also get a huge thrill to show the work of others, and I’m naturally someone that shares resources and opportunities.
I’m community driven, I guess from my background within subculture, so I have this sense of having to protect and promote my tribe because of how cruel the world can be regarding otherness.
You are a self taught Artist, how have you found the creative process since evolving within your artistry, from thought/idea to the final product?
I don’t really plan or have a method, I get ideas, and if I like it enough, I move fast and instantly and obsessively create. Motivation comes and goes in life, and when it’s here I ride it like a wave. My focus is on creating the visually striking and transgressive, which I then weave a narrative into in order to deepen the work and give it purpose and meaning.
Anticlone is an independent gallery, and it is ethos is to blur the lines between established vs emerging. Consistently platforming non conformists artists, and Artists from all different points in their life. As an artist, how do you foresee the future of independent and self taught artists existing within the arts world?
It’s difficult because the artworld is largely driven by money and the pursuit of investment, the NFT bubble really exposed the financial underbelly of the artworld, and a lot of us questioned who the art is actually for in galleries. As an outsider artist I don’t know how ‘successful’ I can be in those terms, but there is a kinder more social driven part of the artworld connected with institutions and museums, who have a desire to connect to communities.
This is not your first performance for Anticlone Gallery, your most recent was at Newington Green Meeting House for Anticlone Takeover II. What do we expect to see for this performance and new collection of Art works for Mandrake x Frieze Takeover III?
For the Meeting House performance I played on the fact it was a church; and created a slow durational ritual that placed transness as central to spirituality. Visually the esotericism took cues from ancient myths and folklore of the UK, and reimagined history through a queer narrative. For the upcoming performance I’m updating the performance to be completely contemporary; with visual cues taken from pop culture, and the reemergence of satanic panic sweeping through social media.For the exhibition I’ll be showing a selection of silicone works, which have never been shown together. There’s also a new painting series, which are my most abstract works to date; they exist somewhere between being a colourscape, a landscape, and a self portrait. The raw and organic meets with tension, conflict, and movement, which is how I’ve been feeling over the last year of struggle and change.