Visual artist Marianne MarpLondon focuses in her collection ‘Icons of Modern Civilization’ on the female figure, and more specifically on the clothing that drapes it. MarpLondon is represented by Lahd Gallery, a well-known exhibition space representing exclusively MENASA contemporary art and creating a focal point for women artists from the Gulf.
MarpLondon asserts that female dress has always been an object of desire on its own, making the wearer play an insignificant role in comparison to it. Obviously, this is an extremely superficial representation of women, who should not have their persona reduced to a piece of cloth; faceless and nameless. Such detachment inspires women to fight for the right to their own unique identity, which brings Marianne to the question: to blend in or to stand out?
According to MarpLondon, “it seems to me that the female body can covered up, run away, stripped naked, pushed up, shown entirely or hid in drapes … as much or as little one likes. Regardless of what she chooses, the world seldom allows her to forget that she is, first and foremost, an alluring sex object, that sells cars, a trophy, a political discourse etc. If she is anything else, then she is considered to be a superwoman. Not just a human being.” Of course, women’s fight for equality has always used the female body and various fashions as a tool to fight, to be noticed and to be heard. MarpLondon explores this concept to the extreme in this collection.
Marianne MarpLondon lives in-between two cultures, which she sees as a state of inter-being in itself – so it comes naturally to her to manoeuvre with ease in and out of these spaces. Not only does she find herself at home in this third space, but it also gives her a sense of belonging. When viewing her art, the observer will find a strong sense of anachronism that refigures and plays with the way we see and understand the world around us with a desire to push and challenge. Her work is driven by an insatiable curiosity and fuelled by an endless fascination with personal and social identities. This includes cross-cultural parallels, the space between modernity and tradition and the relationship between man and woman.
MarpLondon is also attracted to subcultures, unsung heroes, quirkiness, ethnocentricity, the odd sock, randomness, the mundane, folk art, story-telling, style and identity. She is seduced by patterns, colour, movement, film, music and fashion. Her sensibilities belongs to the streets, because she sees them as a teacher, in that the streets and their people are constantly teaching MarpLondon to read the cultures around her. She also applies this philosophy in her aesthetics. Marianne likes to play with concepts of seeing, using elements of naivety and play: as not ‘knowing” the local customs, this automatically gives her a sense of freedom that brings a freshness into her work.
She is currently living and working in London.