Huma Kabakci talks to Paloma Proudfoot and Lindsey Mendick about their show, feminism, Medusa and PROUDICKOCK!


Artists Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot at their collaborative exhibition PROUDICK, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Michael Proudfoot.

PROUDICK, the first collaborative exhibition by artists and best friends Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot, opened on 7th November to a huge crowd at the Hannah Barry Gallery in London. Ahead of the opening of this exhibition curated by Marcelle Joseph, Huma Kabakci had a conversation with the two artists about their show, feminism, Medusa and the evening of performances titled PROUDICKOCK! coming up on Wednesday, 21st November.

HK: Both of you have been included in the same group shows in the past and you share a studio together, but PROUDICK is your first collaborative exhibition. I must say, I love the title of the exhibition drawing from the celebrity couple names, such as Brangelina, Bennifer and Kimye. Can you please explain further how this exhibition idea and concept developed, also with Marcelle Joseph curating the show?

PP: Like you said, we’ve worked so closely together over the last few years, even while we were still studying at the Royal College we were sharing a studio. And then we also share the medium of ceramics. We give each other advice on everything, but we’ve never actually really collaborated to this extent. We’ve done some small collaborative pieces before, but nothing on the scale of an entire show. And I think originally we wanted to do the exhibition in a chapel that we knew that Marcelle had curated a show in before. And so we approached her to see whether it would be possible for us to do a show with her there.

our bed double trouble
Installation shot of PROUDICK, Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

HK: Oh okay, so you approached her first.

PP: Yeah. And then, I can’t remember why, but we weren’t able to use that space, but Marcelle was really keen to work on that show with us together and we thought it would be really nice to have her help with the curation and give the show a framework.

LM: Also I think it’s a bit scary with the two of us working together just on our own. I think when you do have a third person as well, it means that…

HK: There’s someone who can moderate the situation… who is not biased…

LM: Yeah…And it got to the point that if there was something we couldn’t agree on, it was like, “Well, we’ll ask Mum.”

PP: “Oh, we’ll ask Marcelle.” [chuckle]

LM: It was this sort of thing of actually having some sort of curatorial construct for what we were doing, rather than just working. Just us two was a bit frightening I’d say.

h_proudick_installation_view_photo_credit_damian_griffiths_04
Installation shot of PROUDICK, Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

PP: Then Marcelle got in touch with Hannah Barry. I didn’t really think that Hannah Barry would come through and then it did. So it was a nice sort of serendipity that we started out with quite a different idea for the show – that we wanted to make a show about the Medusa and then with the space changing, and as we talked about other things, it inevitably became this other less straightforward beast. Even though we share ceramics as a medium, our work is ostensibly quite different and we were surprised to find that actually we had more in common in terms of influences than we expected. We were chatting about our first influences when we were teenagers and how for both of us Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas had been massive influences. And how even now we think that they’re amazing artists even though Tracey Emin has been critically disparaged a bit and has questionable politics – we still massively respect them both as artists and people who play with the absurdity of being in the public eye.

LM: But I think that quite often in the way that our climate is at the moment. There’s a lot of… You’re meant to look like a mess or you’re meant to be a mess, but not too much of a mess or you’re meant to be… And there’s this thing of being female which is like…

HK: Like the female has to always be so perfect all the time, not too vulnerable, there is an expected stereotype in a way, or she has to carry a certain…

LM: Yeah. But also as well you’re meant to be this right level of feminist, not this wrong level of feminist, and it just feels like at the moment it’s really complex how to be female or how to feel like you’re succeeding at being female. And I think one of the things that happens quite a lot to both of us is that there’s something very disingenuous about social media and Instagram and things like that. Paloma and I disagree on quite a lot of things. But the one thing that we just really inherently need each other for is to hold each other up in this sort of climate that we work in. It’s hard. There’s a lot of self-doubt. For me, it’s always wonderful that I can turn around to you and laugh at these things that terrify me about myself. And then you can laugh back with me. And the whole show seems to be about us empathising with each other.

HK: So that dialogue between friends.

LM: And I think that that’s one of the things that I’m finding quite difficult at the moment… to exist in the current realm where you’re meant to be so strong and so like, “I’m a strong woman.” And people will take a photo and want you to do a Superwoman pose but then also at the same time you are so fragile in some respects. And it’s not wanting to admit that that I’ve been trying to explore this fragility in my work for a while.

HK: I mean there’s this pun in it, PROUDICK, but also the undertone. There are so many references within. Both mythological, but then you’ve talked about Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and the role of being female.

PP: I think that’s the juxtaposition, between the kind of strength and even arrogance of the title, the way you hope to portray yourself outwards and then the collapse of that in your private sphere. This thing that’s using our names is framing ourselves as a celebrity couple, but then the reality of the show is based around our messy bedrooms and the detritus you surround yourself with in the seclusion of your bedroom. And we’re also doing a performance evening where we kind of purposely make ourselves vulnerable by doing things that we remember from our youth as embarrassing. [chuckle]

<em>Proudick installation view photo: Damian Griffiths</em>
Installation shot of PROUDICK, Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

LM: But I think that was one of the things as well with Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas. It’s like Sarah Lucas is quiet, well, quieter, isn’t she? In the way that she does her work. And then Tracey Emin is so loud and then it’s just the crux of their friendship of when they were on the same page with The Shop on Brick Lane and that’s what Pom and I had been trying to take our inspiration from – the idea of commodifying your failure in some sort of respects or commodifying your pain. And we’ve missed each other from working apart so much this year. I think it is probably a celebration of friendship… I can’t tell whether it’s more telling of female friendship or friendship in general but I think definitely female friendship.

HK: Yeah, I was gonna say, the female… Is kind of present.

LM: It’s been really interesting… Us working together… I have a really short temper and Pom is a lot more serene than I am. My stress comes out as anger and just quite fiery and then Pom just goes really tranquil when she’s stressed. [chuckle]

PP: Yeah. I go really slow and quiet.

LM: It’s like I go neurotic and fast and loud and there was a crux where it was just beautiful working together when we just had time and space. But now it’s actually quite good having seen you work a bit more slowly. It has just made me think, “There’s nothing to worry about. Calm the fuck down, Lindsey.”

PP: And it’s just…compromising.

LM: But there’s a lot of waiting in the process as well. There’s a lot of immediacy and then waiting and then immediacy. We’ve been doing quite a few fabric pieces together for this show.

HK: Okay, that was going be my next question. Have you produced works in any other medium other than clay for the exhibition?

PP: We’ve both worked with fabric quite a lot in the past, but hadn’t had a chance to do much recently so we really enjoyed working in fabric for this show – making the bedspreads for our beds and the giant collaborative floor piece. I think it’s probably the most true collaboration of all the pieces that we’ve made together because it’s something that we couldn’t have made separately. This big floor piece is probably the truest sort of hybrid of our mentalities. Lindsey’s mum, who used to be a children’s clothing designer, also came down to London to help us with some of the hand sewing and that was really nice to have a maternal kind of moment. [chuckle]

LM: It’s this really weird thing… We both talk quite a bit about the loneliness of making. And then we had just this small room in my kitchen and we were making all of these fabric pieces. And my mum came along as well but we’d been going on for a couple of days and another of our friends came over and we were just talking and having cups of tea, and it was just so lovely and just a completely different environment to be in. Just four women sitting around and chatting. It was a really beautiful time. But then it’s really odd because whenever I do any sort of sewing pieces I have to have my mum help me because I’ve got no tolerance for it. And then my mum saw me making stuff. Afterwards she was like, “Oh, you’re cutting things out properly.” And I think it’s things like this that Pom made me do… I think it is really good when Pom teaches me stuff like that. And I imagined that when we were doing these fabric pieces that Pom would take more of the lead, but then she was really great in helping me with designing stuff and it kind of felt really natural that we were doing it together.

HK: And I guess there’s this sense of satisfaction. Once…

LM: Oh my god, it’s the most satisfying piece I’ve ever done.

HK: Can you both explain the mythological references and how it inspired you both for this exhibition as it was your starting point?

LM: We started talking about mythology from the beginning stages of preparing for this exhibition. It just became a symbolic language that we started using. The whole show came from me and Paloma both being in Harlow as we were both up for the same award. And that’s what is so odd about our friendship. We are always out for the same things, the same people talk to us and there is an element of… we all have to be competitive against each other. We are both artists… Graduating at the same time… We have similar career goals.

PP: We share so much fiction as well because we listen to audio tapes in the studio. The show is based around this amazing quote from an essay written by Anne Carson about female pollution in antiquity: ‘For a man wins no better prize than a good woman, and none more chilling than a bad one– always hunting something to devour. And no matter how strong he is, she roasts her man without fire, and hands him over to a raw old age’.

LM: But we have things that we disagree on taste-wise and in art, but I think we have more of a similar taste almost and that sort of narrative affliction. And that’s something that’s so important for both of us. So it’s storytelling and… That was where the Medusa came from for me because I was shocked about this story of this woman who turned men to stone. And I found that in the last year I’ve got more and more disgruntled by things that have been said to me, lovers and really toxic relationships…

HK: Especially in London.

LM: Yeah. Oh my God. [laughter]

LM: But it’s all insane. It’s absolutely crazy…. the beheaded Medusa with her hair of venomous snakes. And Philomela as well from Ovid’s Metamorphoses who was raped by her sister’s husband and had her tongue cut out so she couldn’t speak the truth. Looking at these women in Greek mythology who were being scorned and turned into such devil women. I just feel myself relating to them more and more closely. And understanding the politics of it. I think there’s also really interesting things in paintings throughout art history. You’ll see women everywhere in these paintings, but they’re usually in the throes of being raped or murdered or out there looking beautiful and serene…

HK: So for the 21st of November, there will be an evening of performances titled PROUDICKOCK!

[laughter]

Can you tell us more about this event and are you visualising one performance after another? How did it all come about? I love the title, by the way…

PP: Well, it’s called PROUDICKOCK! … Teddy May de Kock is the other performer who we have invited to make a performance from the transcript of our recent text messages. So she makes these incredible soap opera style performances and she is turning the transcript of our messages into a script for a performance…

PP: [chuckle] Which was quite…

LM: Alarming.

PP: Alarming sending her our messages because we have such a weird sort of rapport… it’s like mixing really personal stuff in the weirdest stream of consciousness where nothing relates to each other and makes no sense to the outsider listening in.

LM: I thinks it’s because we know exactly what’s happening in each other’s life.

PP: And then also we’re…

LM: Staging an eating contest.

PP: We’re doing an eating contest.

HK: Yes, I read about that. Yeah, I was kind of intrigued by the whole thing… So you’re inviting members of the public to also take part in it as well? How does it work?

Lindsey: Yeah, not just us.

HK: Okay.

PP: Yeah. But I suppose we both have quite complicated relationships with food and have been… Kind of made fun of it before in the past and I remember I have this really vivid memory of winning an eating contest at school when I was younger and thinking it should be something that I was really proud of and then later being really embarrassed of being so proud of winning this eating contest ’cause it seemed really uncouth for a woman to relish eating so much and to win this contest over all of the guys. But unlike Lindsey had…

LM: I just literally… If you’re overweight, it’s like you have to pretend you don’t eat and you’re not actually fooling fucking anyone, but it’s just like this really weird thing that you see always gonna be like, “Oh, I couldn’t eat that.” It’s like fucking, yeah. “Look at you.” I know you can eat that. But it’s this sort of thing of I have this thing of watching other men be applauded for how much they can eat, but with women…It’s disgusting. It’s like, “Oh my God, put her away.” And so for me personally it’s this sort of thing of you can only enter an eating contest if you’re a female, if you’ve got the perfect body or seem like the sexualization of food. Even people I epically admire like Beyonce. It’s like beautiful women who you could tell diet all the time just pretending they like food. And men sort of being like, Oh, I want a woman who can eat but then also simultaneously…

HK: You also want a size zero woman. [laughter]

LM: Yeah, exactly. It’s like a paradox between the two and where’s the reality. And so we were like, “Why can’t we create this environment where these women can be messy and we’re gonna create this sort of place where messiness is wanted and… Yeah, it should be good.

PP: There’ll be some embarrassing singing and dancing as well. There’s quite a lot planned… [chuckle]

HK: Great, I’m excited. I’ll be there!

PROUDICKOCK! will be an evening of performances exploring so-called ‘acceptable’ feminine behaviour and the millennial anxiety of both meeting and ignoring these expectations. Proudick, the celebrity couple portmanteau the artists Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot have branded themselves for the duration of the collaborative exhibition in the gallery, will stage an eating contest, a messy protest to the line of exes who have made fun of their shared enthusiasm for food. Through loud mouthfuls of hotdog, Proudick will out their ordinarily private misdemeanours. Teddy May de Kock will create a soap-opera-style performance created from the stream of text messages that Proudick have sent each other. Mendick will be harking back to teenage lovelorn misery in a musical exploration of Leona Lewis’ seminal Bleeding Love, and Proudfoot will perform a new text work based on Hannah Wilke’s 1982 song Stand Up.

The evening of performances will start at 7 pm on Wednesday the 21st of November 2019 but the gallery will be open from 6.30pm to view the exhibition. The exhibition continues until 12th of January 2019.
Hannah Barry Gallery 4 Holly Grove Peckham, London SE15 5DF hannahbarry.com
MORE: marcellejoseph.com/exhibitions/


Installation shot of PROUDICK, Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot, Hannah Barry Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

About The Artists
Lindsey Mendick (b. 1987, London, UK) received an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London (2017). Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: The Turnpike Pottery, The Turnpike Leigh (2018); Perfectly Ripe, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018); Jamie Fitzpatrick and Lindsey Mendick, Vitrine, Basel (2018); She’s Really Nice When You Get To Know Her, Visual Arts Center, Austin, Texas (2016); Girls(with Rebecca Gould) as part of Periclo, Oriel Wrexham, Wales (2015); Hot Flush, STCFTHOTS, Leeds (2015); and Lindsey Mendick and Lynn Fulton, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2015). Selected group exhibitions include: Survey, Jerwood Space, London (2018); Something Else, Triumph Gallery, Moscow (2018); Rhapsodies, Ping Pong, Brussels (2018); If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Roaming Projects, London (2018); Flipside, Fold Gallery, London (2018); You See Me Like a UFO, Marcelle Joseph Projects, Ascot (2017); Herland, Bosse & Baum, London (2017); In Dark Times, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2017); You Were High When I Was Doomed, IMT Gallery, London (2017); and Sell Yourself, Patrick Studios, Leeds (2017).
lindseymendick.com

Paloma Proudfoot (b.1992, London, UK) received an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London (2017). As well as her solo sculptural practice, Proudfoot works in collaboration with artist and choreographer Aniela Piasecka, and the performance group Stasis. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: Solo presentation with Soy Capitan, Art Berlin Fair, Berlin (2018); The Detachable Head Serves as a Cup, Cob Gallery, London (2018); The Clean Carcass of the Host(with George Rouy for Condo Mexico), Marso Galeria, Mexico City (2018); The Engagement Party(with Piasecka), Scottish Arts Club, Edinburgh (2018); The Thinking Business(with Rebecca Ounstead), The Royal Standard, Liverpool (2017); There’s One Missing From Your Bunch, May Projects, London (2016); and The Jockey(with Piasecka), Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (2015). Selected group exhibitions include: SM, Sans Titre, Marseille (2018); Something Else, Triumph Gallery, Moscow (2018); Rhapsodies, Ping Pong, Brussels (2018); Becoming Plant, Tenderpixel, London (2018); Towards a Theory of Powerful Things, Rod Barton, London (2018); Chambre Dix, Sans Titre, Paris (2018); Terra, Lamb Arts, London (2018); Ripe, Kingsgate Workshops, London (2018); If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Roaming Projects, London (2018); Doing it in Public, Beaconsfield Gallery, London (2017); and Herland, Bosse and Baum, London (2017). palomaproudfoot.com

About Huma Kabakci

Huma Kabakci (b. in 1990, London, UK) graduated from BA Advertising & Marketing at London College of Communication in 2011, and later on graduated from her MA in Curating Contemporary Art at Royal College of Art, London. She worked and interned in various galleries, museums and auction houses, both in the UK and Turkey, including Sotheby’s New Bond Street (Contemporary Art Sales department), The Albion Gallery (London), Pera Museum (Turkey), as well as three major collection exhibitions she worked on in museums during the 2010 Ruhr & Pecs Capital of Culture project. Huma’s recent curatorial projects include; Adventitious Encounters group exhibition (9-22 March 2018) with 20 international emerging and established artists which she co-curated and organised as Open Space Contemporary Founder and Ladies’ Paradise group exhibition (22 February- 12 April 2018) taking place at Grace Belgravia with four emerging female artists including Merve ??eri, Clementine Keith-Roach, Güne? Terkol and Sofia Stevi. Over the years, she has gained excellent knowledge in Turkish, Middle Eastern Contemporary Art and Emerging Contemporary Art in London and her curatorial interest lies in subjects such as; diaspora, cultural identity, gender, memory and the body.