Suite 7a is an independent arts business. Born out of a City of Sydney studio residency and frustration with the industry. The first projects to come out of working in the space were organised by Rafaela Pandolfini with Ainslie Templeton; Session Vessels held off-site at Airspace Projects in 2018, followed by An Unintended Consequence (of labour) at The Downing Centre window boxes.
Exhibitions were also organised in the physical Suite 7a premises at 66 Oxford St Darlinghurst Sydney. In 2018 and 2019 there was a series of exhibitions in the hallway of the building including solo presentations by Rozsa Erica, Marilyn Schneider, Dylan Nicols, Robin Clare and Kevin Cheung, as well as 2 shows in the studio space by Rebecca Scibilia and Elise Peterson.
Victoria Todorov & Ainslie Templeton
Ainslie: To speak of high and low culture meeting in an era where the biotechnologization of the body and efflorescence of microscale mediatised cults-of-personality have become de rigueur is to enter the territory of post-cliche: Victoria Todorov prefers using and abusing when it comes to her stunning interventions into the language of contemporary art. It has been a thrill to see her photorealistic paintings circulating in this year of years, and to see them featured recently at Suite 7a, where I am told there are more coming. Below we discuss the works, and the narratives of beauty, loss and wellness that informs them. What are the works that you have given Suite 7a?
Victoria: I have given Suite 7a a series influenced by the online communities of bimbofication, pro-plastic aesthetics and an admiration for the process of transformation to express oneself. A few of the works feature Lolo Ferrari, a French erotic actress and cultural icon starring in the Television series Eurotrash. Lolo was a complex and divisive beauty, who had a dark reality and suspicious death. I am personally mourning loved ones this past 2 years so I wanted to do some celebration of life with underpinnings of struggle and vulnerability.
Ainslie: I'm sorry for your losses darling. If the paintings are in part a response to mourning and a celebration of life, they are extremely gorgeous and provocative (the many faces of hot pink) at the same time. In Wonder of Scam, the splodges and brush strokes are presented like in a makeup estore, while the shifty main subject gives a feeling of exploiting / being exploited that feels very knowing and sexy to me. That's not Lolo is it?
Victoria: Thank you love and it is exciting for me to hear your interpretation! I have been looking at a lot of makeup textures and layering lately. The lady in the picture is Angelyne, Angelyne is an American singer, actress, personality and model who came to prominence in 1984 after the appearance of a series of iconic billboards in and around Los Angeles, California which read only & and pictured her posing suggestively. - Wikipedia. I am always interested in the evolution of social media, the Myspace-era aesthetic influencing me a lot. So naturally I started to think about pre-Internet and Angelyne kind of was an influencer / presence via print media. I like the way she marketed herself mysteriously, behind a fan, and monetised any interaction. I love her personal style and use of colour, it has informed so much of the colour palette in works in development. I think they just made a TV show about her too which is nice!Â
Ainslie: How do you think you and your work would thrive better there versus here?
Victoria: I feel I would be safer, happier and enriched in the US. A lot of what I consume is American, the people I am friends with online are from there. I feel so much potential in the Big Apple, it is hard to describe what I think the US represents but I just really adore it. There is more diversity in general â itâs not perfect I am sure. I am wanting my Carrie Bradshaw moment like anyone. The people in the US also understand me better. In Melbourne I am relegated and they are only interested in ticking boxes or some unrelated agenda which gets gold stars for them perhaps lol. But in saying that, I have some other artists and wonderful people who genuinely support me, often not in the system if that makes sense?
Ainslie: I love cutting observations of desperate Melbourne people - it's hard to know where different systems begin and end, if that makes sense. We havenât ever met irl Victoria, but over the last few years I feel like I keep encountering total acolytes of yours. This year especially, it feels like your work is getting the wider traction and excitement that it commands. Whatâs shifted for you in 2020, if anything?
Victoria: That is real sweet and it is sometimes you just connect in this effortless way, it is so nice.Â Melbourne can be insular, cruel, tall poppy, edge but on the flip it can be standard, accessible, surface, basic. I sit outside of it all and am too Paranoid / anxious to engage traditionally with it. That is why I am grateful to Suite 7a for letting me energetically be in beautiful Sydney, I am into the idea of living a Sydney lifestyle. I think: Vitamin D, vitality, love, good taste, juice, polished and glam. I am not sure what has changed this year, perhaps being more vulnerable made some people interested, or something in the work resonated more. On a personal level, it has been a spiritually exhausting year for me, but lined with hope. I am excited to be working with several people I respect and admire so much on upcoming projects.