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Economist Plaza Exhibition: Zoe Walker – Portable Paradise

The Economist Plaza, 25 St James's Street, London, 2009, ©Paul Farmer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence courtesy: The Creative Commons Licence photo: Paul Farmer
The Economist Plaza, 25 St James's Street, London, 2009, ©Paul Farmer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence courtesy: The Creative Commons Licence photo: Paul Farmer

13 December 2000—21 January 2001

Consultancy, Economist Plaza

The Economist Plaza
25 St James's Street
London, SW1A 1HG United Kingdom

My work is concerned with escapism. I work within the gap between the commercial presentation and packaging of a place and the reality of the particular location. I make objects which act as home crafted escape devices. These objects are used as props in videos and photographs which often emulate the kinds of images that are provided for us through advertising or in films and therefore subconsciously become a part of our own imagining.

For The Economist Plaza, Zoe Walker presents an illuminated photograph from her 1996 work Portable Paradise: an inflatable plastic bubble containing a scale-model tropical island scene. Urban living led Walker to build her own fantasy island, which she photographed at various locations within the city.

The series of images for Portable Paradise reveals the artist physically inhabiting the life-size inflatable. It is as if she is contained in a glass-domed, ornamental snow scene. As in one of these scenes, Walker is caught in what looks like a flurry of snow in summer. Walker sees the island as a fictional place providing a focus for memories and desires. The work exposes the way in which consumer culture capitalises on fantasies by producing goods which might placate our desires in a quick but temporary way.

The inevitable disappointment of the fake or material object is inherent in Walker’s work, although the promise of fulfilment lingers. Walker completed an MA at Goldsmiths College in 1996. She has recently undertaken a residency at Canberra School of Art, Australia. Having shown widely abroad and across the UK, she also exhibited at An Ideal Home at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 24 November – 10 December 2000.

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