In association with the Royal Academy of Arts

Adham Faramawy: breaking out in 2015

Talking all things slime, sex and scent, we caught up with last year’s art finalist

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Wet Look-Dry Wall
“Wet Look – Dry Wall”Courtesy of the artist

Taken from Vol IV Winter 2014 Issue:

For this year’s Emerging Artists Award, staged in partnership between Converse and Dazed, we’re calling for the art world’s most fearless rebels out of education. In a first for 2015, our five finalists will each be awarded £1,000 to create site-specific work to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, with the winner taking home £5,000. This year’s panel of judges comprises Royal Academy artistic programmes director Tim Marlow, maverick gallerist Javier Peres, street art innovator José Parlá, Glasgow International director Sarah McCrory, artist and musician Steven Claydon and Dazed visual arts editor Francesca Gavin.

Last year’s finalist Adham Faramawy took us to the slime spa with his video “SXC N00DZ”, and since then has shown in spaces from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. In his riotous live performances, you’ll see unsuspecting people drenched in mineral water, gunge, and an extra serving of CGI effects. With his destabilising aesthetic of excess, Faramawy’s sexy and slimy psychedelic visuals are both completely seductive and weirdly repellent – a liquid vision that forms a perfect symbol for the fluidity of our digital world. Currently working on a perfume project as well as a public sculpture for central London next year, Faramawy gave us a noseful of what he’s been up to.

How did being a finalist in the award last year affect your practice?

Adham Faramawy: On graduating, I didn’t know whether I would have the opportunity to carry on as an artist. Being offered a couple of shows out of school like the Converse x Dazed award, which had a budget to produce work, was encouraging. Sometimes you have the opportunity to just sit and read and watch stuff and develop ideas, and other times you are just forced to develop by making and the award was part of that for me. It also meant I got to have some conversations with Francesca Gavin, which led to mybeing included in a show she curated at Site Gallery called E-Vapor-8, which was a really great experience.

Could you tell me about your interest in slime?

Adham Faramawy: It’s something I explored in my show Feels Real at Marian Cramer Projects in Amsterdam. The painter Celia Hempton recommended an extract in the back of a Sartre book Being and Nothingness. It’s this really problematic text where he gendered material and problematised slime as abject and feminine and trans; something that’s an ‘in-between’ material. I just thought ‘OK, this is a rich and problematic piece of writing’, and then I started reading other texts on slime. Slime’s become an issue of gendered embodiment for me.

Your videos are erotic in parts, why is that?

Adham Faramawy: To occupy. Sexuality isn’t something to omit or deny. The way that I construct, edit and compose shots, a lot of it for me is to do with foregrounding the idea of the viewer. It’s not necessarily a male gaze for me, but it’s certainly an embodied gaze. It’s a gendered and sexed gaze. That’s what is behind this idea of trying to point at the performers’ bodies as sensual sites.

Who are the people that initially inspired you to make art?

Adham Faramawy: Yayoi Kusama’s 60s video “Self-Obliteration” is one of the reasons I started making video work. It’s one of the things that informed the ways I deal with the body. Have a quick look on YouTube when you get a moment, there are some psychedelic scenes with a kind of orgiastic party that relate to my work really directly. Then there is Lynda Benglis and her ideas on gendered embodiment. And Charles Atlas: his work with Merce Cunningham, Michael Clark and Leigh Bowery informs the ways I compose shots of the body, without a doubt.

What are you working on right now?

Adham Faramawy: The Fiorucci Art Trust asked if I would like to do a workshop on perfume and I thought, ‘Wow!’ I misbehaved as a teenager and lost my sense of smell for a bit, so to be making a perfume now was interesting. We did it at a place called Scent London. I got really excited by what we were doing. Then I was approached by studioleigh.com, which is an online platform commissioning artists to make functional products. So I’ve been working with Scent London and Studio Leigh to release this scent piece as an edition. The idea was to try and translate a Hatsune Miku video of her dancing in a garden, so I’m calling the perfume “Hyperreal Flower Blossom” and I’m launching it with a window at VITRINE gallery in Bermondsey early next year. 

Submissions are now open, for a chance to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts click here