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July 10, 2008updated Feb 13, 2013

Quintessentially Summer Arts Party Success

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Held at the stunning Philips de Pury & Co. in Victoria, the party was one of the highlights of the London summer social season bringing together an eclectic and stylish mix of well-known faces from the worlds of art, fashion, society, music and film. Guests included Piers Morgan, Jacquetta Wheeler, Immodesty Blaize, Tom and Sara Parker Bowles, Alex Dellal and Olympia Scarry, Oscar Humphries, Harry and Laura Lopes, Padma Lakshmi, Nicky Haslam, Annie Morris and Idris Khan, Margo Stilley, Gavin Turk, Alison Myners, Sophia Hesketh and many more.

The atmosphere was electric as guests enjoyed the awesome contemporary space – a perfect backdrop for an evening of distinctive and radically inspiring performance art, curated by Nick Hackworth and comprising five artists engaged in a series of different performances. .

The program of performances, entitled “The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters”, was inspired by Plate 43 of Goya’s series of etchings ‘Los Caprichos’ which depicts a sleeping scholar whose visible dream is populated by monsters. The famous image is an allegorical warning of what happens when the forces of reason and order relax their hold on human society, and the artists responded with the creation of performances that deal with sleep, dreaming, memory, ghosts, spirits and horror.

The guests were clearly enthralled by the art – some was shocking and radical, some funny and some strange – but all created a truly inspirational evening. Artists on the night included ‘the dreamers’ – Eloise Fornieles, who reprised her celebrated performance ‘Senesence’, in which she sleeps in a dreamlike, aesthetic environment whilst the audience is invited to influence her dreams, and Kirstie Macleod whose ‘A Dreaming Dress’ saw her lay recumbent on a bed formed by a vast, impossible dress which stretched out beyond the bounds of reality. Then came the spirits of mischief, darkness and horror. Some comic, some serious. They included Julian Arnold who performed ‘The Skull Dawn Blues’, in which he ‘summons’ the spirits of dead singers in order to draw out histories and identities from the pool of history that has shaped our environment. And David Birkin, who performed ‘4 Hours’, a 4 hour live performance performed naked that relates to a 2002 Pentagon internal memo authorizing the use of stress positions and other ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques by the US military, and finally Edward Fornieles whose range of pranks, readings and action entertained the audience with dark humor and punky energy.

As well as an awesome array of performances and a fantastic set from DJ Robin Scott-Lawson, guests enjoyed magnums of Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut as well as a host of delicious Summer cocktails including the ‘Quintessentially’ – Wyborowa Vodka shaken with Grand Marnier, mango juice and fresh lime juice and ‘Le Pomme Anglaise’ – Martell Cognac built with pressed apple juice, crème de peche, apricot brandy and fresh lime. A delicious feast of carpaccio of beef, artichoke and truffles, bowls of Thai red chicken curry with jasmine rice, indulgent chocolate brownies and shortbread sable, vanilla cheesecake parfait and English strawberries kept guests dancing ‘til the early hours.

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