Absolut Dalston & Saam Farahmand

The premium Swedish vodka brand team up with Dalston locals and the London-based director to capture the east London vibe in a two day festival and interactive video installation

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Whilst London goes wedding crazy this weekend, Absolut Vodka are going absolutely 'Dalstony' with a two-week residency across Hackney’s independent party township with the local Land of Kings festival. The premium Swedish vodka brand unveil the ABSOLUT DALSTON festival in a collaboration with London-based video director Saam Farahmand to celebrate the youthful spirit of Hackney’s alternative partysphere. Held exclusively to Land of Kings wristband-holders, the home-grown collective housing Dalston’s brightest music talent spreads itself across a selection of 15 local venues including the Rio Cinema, Alibi, Arcola Theatre, Nest, Print House Gallery, Stone Cave and Efes Snooker Hall.

At the heart of the festival will be Saam Farahmand who, taking time out from being one of London’s most wanted music directors having working on Mark Ronson’s ‘Somebody To Love Me’ and Klaxon’s trippy twister orgy ‘Twin Flames’,  will be shooting video portraits of Dalston party goers. The portraits, capturing participates from the launch night dancing to their favourite songs, will feature on the second day of the festival in an interactive art installation projected across ABSOLUT DALSTON’s dancehall at the Magnolia Banqueting Suite. Rocking out to their chosen songs, 2ManyDjs are set to soundtrack the collaborative effort. Dazed caught up with Saam to talk about the event and capturing the spirit of Hackney’s untamed party ethic…

Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with Land of Kings and Absolut Dalston?
Saam Farahmand: I have made and shown Video Portraits of people I know for two years now, but it has a life of its own... I want other people to play with it. I feel creatively protected collaborating with ABSOLUT, and I respect their heritage. When I told them my idea of Video Portraits 'user-generated-parties' happening in cities, they thought that the distinctly spirited Dalston would be a good place to start, within the festival that celebrates the area, 'Land Of Kings'. 

We decided that 2manyDJs (who are Belgian but local residents for a few years now) would obviously be the most qualified at quickly turning dozens of Thursdays portrait DVDs into Friday night’s set. I’m nervous that even for them it will be difficult since the tracks will be chosen by the people of Dalston, just one night before the party. 

DD: How would you describe the Dalston vibe? What draws people there?
Saam Farahmand: Dalston is unique in that it is like the ugly duckling sandwiched between the smugness of Islington and the day-dreaminess of east Hackney's park lands. It has a harder spirit, which will be watered down in time, but hopefully these song choices and these dances will form a memorable snapshot of the area.

DD: How did you first get into Video art? What appealed to you about it? 
Saam Farahmand: When I studied art, I was inspired by the video work of Bruce Nauman and Angus Fairhurst. They made existential Beckettian work that attempted to find meaning from nothing. I always thought this was the antithesis to what we are doing here, but then realised it could be the flipside to the same coin. I am never sure if it is art or a party, either way, the most direct way of understanding the work is to speak to the people who take part.

The ABSOLUT DALSTON shooting party takes place tonight at The Arcola; 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, E8 3DL, 10:30pm – 3am. Works will be projected on 29 April at the Magnolia Banqueting Suite; 15 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, N16 8BH 7pm – 12pm. For tickets visit the Land of Kings website

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