Graeme Gerard Halliday (aka Hallidonto) and Hara Piperdou have brought together two narratives to create ‘Trans-cending to the Void’ which will be exhibited from September 27th at the Thames Side Studios in Woolwich, London. The exhibition is a thought- provoking exploration of a dystopian human existence and an unmissable must see exhibition for anyone with an interest in contemporary art and artists. “Trans-scending to the void” is hailed as one of the most awaited exhibitions in the forthcoming London calendar. I’m honoured to interview one of artists exhibiting, Scotish artist Graeme Gerard Halliday aka ‘Hallidonto’. Read the full interview below to find out more about him and his work.

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Tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become an artist, also why Hallidonto as your artistic name?

I come from Dundee, which is a city on the East coast of Scotland. I have always been interested in Art since a young age, it was the only thing in school I remember ever being remotely interested in. When I was younger I wanted to be an animator, I was obsessed with cartoons, and particularly Japanese Manga. I remember convincing my gran-mother to buy me Akira when I was around eight years old….. I know, I know it was a film for adults, but after I had a taste of one of these films before, I wanted to see more;the music ,the visuals, it blew me away, such a profound affect on me. I always liked drawing and creating scenarios as I drew, I was always lost in my imagination as a child.

As for my artistic name Hallidonto, I have some theories as where I got the name: My Mum told me that when I was a kid, I used to have an Italian accent. One day my Mum called out my name, I said to her: Don’t call me Graeme, call me David. To this day, still raises questions as to how I said this, as I know David doesn’t really equate to ‘Donto’ . I wanted to create a character in a playful way such as: Hallidonto the Cyborg prophet….

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Graeme Gerard Halliday at his studio in London

How is a day in the life of a contemporary artist like yourself in London, do you have a daily routine?

Switches from day to day for me, I go to the gym every morning , helps the juices flow. I like to read and contemplate about my work before the execution and reflect on it after. I always carry a sketchbook, to draw, but I also actively work to get my work out into the public eye which I believe is key. I have to invest my time in finding contacts, gallery representation and holding down a part time job. I want to be able to commit to my art work full time.
The work you are exhibiting from 27th September at the Thames side studios is about your very own vision of modern humanity , and the “cyborgs” or figures without any humanity are key to your work, why?

The cyborg image, has been an integral part of my childhood. The cold war had just ended – the cultural landscape of the 80’s , was very much rooted in the future, the inherent feeling of that time was dystopia from the cartoons/films, I watched as a kid, the advent of console gaming: Nintendo, etc. The image of man was always his metamorphism into the machine, or the machines taking over. I identified with the cyborg image, I wanted to be one.

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Hallidonto in his London studio

What fascinated you about Cyborgs to make them such a big part of your artistic work ?

While at university, I got really transfixed by the philosophy of Post-modernism: I recall the book ‘The beginners guide to Post-modernism’. One section had a brief synopsis about cyborgs in Pop-culture, from what I could ascertain that the simulacrum of the Cyborg , was very much a symbol of humanity’s post-human condition. I started my journey reading a text by Jean Baudrillard and his book ‘simulacrum and simulations’, which led me into the realm of the hyperreal and the concept of reality in a media infested world. The more I observed them, I thought of them as lacking humanity. They represented the existentialist struggle within. I knew this was the route I had to go, as I felt a real affinity to this concept. The cyborg is not a simulacrum anymore, the cyborg now has an ontology , it is real, our ever evolving technology has brought us into the post-human state. I wanted to create an ongoing narrative similar to the frescoes of the renaissance, that period celebrated the devine, I see my work as the neo-reinaissance. My visual vocabulary is a warning for the flesh.

Your forthcoming exhibition “Trans-scending to the void” is in collaboration with Greek artist Hara Piperdou, who will also be exhibiting her work.How did the collaboration with Hara come about and is there a link between your work and your vision and her work?

Me and Hara Piperidou, were introduced to each other through a mutual friend in New York, whom I had met when I was exhibiting there a few years back. We both observed that our work, was vey much about the struggles of humanity .Though visually and conceptually different there was common ground.  Hara’s work is very much about the organic and mines the inorganic. I am very much an admirer of her work, and likewise Hara is of my mine.

Artist Hallidonto at the Royal Academy in London speaking his “Cyborgia Manifesto”

At the Post Human Forum 2015 in New York ,where you were an invited artist, you presented the ” Cyborgia Manifesto” , what are the key points of the manifesto and are you hoping for it to became a movement where other artists follow the rules of your manifesto, something similar to say the Dogma 95 filmmaking manifesto, or is it more of a personal manifesto for you and your work?

My manifesto conveys a broad concept of my work. It has an observational view of the world at present. It articulates my beginning – In other words the era when I was born, it also explains my influences . To reiterate the cyborg to me is a calling, it’s the path I must visualise, I feel  lucky to be born when I was. My childhood fascinations are not merely the musings of a young boy, my fantasies have now become a reality. I see my work as a beacon of its time. If other artists, public, poets, identify with my work then I am more than happy with that. I leave no dogma or rules with my work. I feel I am already part of a movement, and I have my own vision of it. My work is personal, but it is for humanity. My work is of its time, before its time and a head of its time.

What are the main themes of your work as an artist , is it all based on your particular vision of the world or are you also inspired by the work of other artists? Who would you say have been the biggest influences in your work ?

The main theme of my work is the human condition: The cyborg being the motif, my personal symbolism so to speak. I write a lot of poetry, which tend to have an existential and post-human quality to them. I really like to draw people, in my signature style, my work has a vagueness to it, with parts of the body or face missing, I like to create a void for the viewer to fill in the rest.

I was greatly inspired by ‘pop-culture’ as a child, but also ‘High art’ if you want to put that label on it. I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to Art . I love Marcel Duchamp, we have the same birthday and I’ll be doing a homage piece to him at some point. Also the work by Masamune Shirow, Hiroaki Samura, Egon Schlie, Leonardo Da Vinci, Paul McCarthy, Thomas Hisrchorn, Takashi Murkamai, Hokusai, Edward Hopper, jacek malczewski, Matthew Barney, Katsushiro Otomo, James Stewart (Gusto Ditto), Gustav Klimt, Arnold Brockln, Matthew Day. Poets: Charles Baudlaire, Rimbaud, Appollanire, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Writers: Joris Karl Hyusmans, Herman Hesse, Jean Paul Sarte, Albert Camus, Philip K Dick, Friedrich Nietzsche. Film Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky, Akira Kurosawa. The list could go on and on….

The works that you and Hara are exhibiting are also for sale during the exhibition (all the works are *Tagsmart certified) What do you think are the key elements that will attract someone to purchase one of the pieces ,  are they more collectors pieces or contemporary art museum pieces considering the very thought provoking nature of each piece ?

Our work is about our time, what is occurring in society, the works are symbols of their era. I believe our works have a unique style to them, they take you to another world, but a world that isn’t far away. I don’t see the separation between collector or institution, museum, gallery etc. I do strongly feel our work is important , our work is very much of its time.
 Whats next for you, what is your next project?

I have a few things brewing in my brain at the moment, I want to create some sculptural pieces, and I was in talks with some post-human dancers based on New York, about a performance piece I have created.. Actually you will recall what happened that day I tried to film it… This piece has to be made, I am certainly not finished with it yet. Also I am going to be collaborating with my old mentor, on a furniture piece with the Cyborg motif – a piece of Avant grade furniture. I will also be creating new pieces to add to the ever growing Cyborg meta-narrative.

“Trans-scending to the void ” is on at the Thames Side Studios in Woolwich from September 27th until October 8th

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