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Cyrille Weiner Christophe Haleb

Lingering Whispers

Dazed step into the darkness to celebrate the final week of one of London's most successful shows

This week is your last chance to see the exhibition Lingering Whispers in the crypt of St Pancras Church, a show where fashion, erotica and art collide in an unfettered and often deeply unsettling exploration of sex, death and glamour. Evoking the spirit of a haunted underground bordello from one of David’ Lynch’s stranger dreams, Lingering Whispers is a darkly enchanting experience, and one that feels intensely dramatic. With artworks on show from forty international artists, it has been one of the runaway hits of the last two months and it’s not something to be missed. We stepped into the gloom of London’s famous catacombs to discuss with curator Predrag Pajdic why nature may decay the physical body but dreams remain eternal…

Dazed Digital: Did you want artists to explore the notion of the sleeping mind and unfettered dream states?
Predrag Pajdic:
 I have always been interested in that particular instant just before awakening, a moment where the consciousness is kind of trapped in between a dream state and reality: half-asleep and half-alert. This instant is perhaps the closest to what I would understand as parallel realities: existing in two spheres at the same time. This was one of the key factors when I was constructing the concept for Lingering Whispers, and a challenge given to some of the artists in the show. I wanted them to try and depict this moment; this notion of the sleeping mind and alert consciousness. For me, this also represented an allegory for creativity, fantasy and dreamtime on one side and the contemporary harsh realities of many on the other. David Lynch is a master of creating these parallel realities and Twin Peaks was an influence on the atmosphere we tried to create in the crypt.

Dazed Digital: The show seems to have a strong leaning towards erotica…
Predrag Pajdic:
 Forty international artists took part in the exhibition, and some of them certainly played with the notion of eroticism, not necessarily to give any answers but rather to question our tolerance to differences – teasing out taboos still deeply embedded in our society. We are often told that London is one of the most tolerant places on the planet, celebrating diversity to the full... Well, by listening to visitors’ comments on Michal Ohana-Cole’s hooded ladies, I believe there is still a long way to go.

Dazed Digital: Why do you think erotica is often dark and surreal with the suggestion of violence and death?
Predrag Pajdic.
 It is all about our differences and ways of seeing things. We are all shaped by the cultural, social, economic, and political codes embedded deeply in us by our education, as well as upbringing. Add to that religion and you realise how complex we all are. So, what for one person represents the erotic for might be dark and sinister to someone else.

Dazed Digital: Are you particularly interested in the notion of life after death?
Predrag Pajdic:
 Absolutely, I believe we all are. If we think of humans as energies we realise that death cannot be the end, because just like dreams it cannot be destroyed. Energy can be transformed from one form to another, like electricity to light, light to heat, heat to motion… but never destroyed. So I look at death more as a transformative stage. Whenever there is an end, there also has to be a new beginning.

Dazed Digital: What was the initial inspiration behind the show?
Predrag Pajdic:
 The depression era in America in the early 20th century. Although this was a time of economic upheaval, it was also the golden era of Hollywood, when they were making these incredible escapist films, and it was the era when fashion designers first started to make these amazing costumes for films. I wanted to try and mirror that, and show that in the current time of so-called economic crisis that artists can produce their most amazing work.

Dazed Digital: Why the strong crossover with fashion in the show?
Predrag Pajdic:
 I consider fashion as a really high art from, Alexander McQueen is fucking art; his live shows were like installations. I wanted to have the artists consider how much work goes into fashion – people don’t realise how much work it takes to find good photographers, then get amazing models and stylists, then get the right set, then the lighting; it’s a massive production that eventually becomes one photograph. I really wanted to show fashion as an art form, and I worked with the artists on that notion until we found something that would be interesting. Of course, it’s very easy to recreate the beauty of mainstream fashion, but all of these artists really gave that some kind of dark twist.

Lingering Whispers exhibits in the crypt of St Pancras Church, London until June 6