An avid collector of contemporary and urban art, international DJ Fat Boy Slim (aka Norman Cook) has, in the past, to use his own words, “tentatively flirted” with visual art collaborations. Encouraged by his work with Lisbon-based visual artist Vhils, Cook has been enticed out of the DJ booth and into the gallery to curate “Smile High Club”, a unique exhibition inspired by the symbol he holds most dear, the smiley.
The international symbol of peace and love, the smiley holds a unique place in Cook’s world: as the unofficial logo of his musical alter ego; as a giant mural adorning the roof of his house; as the design of his one and only tattoo; and as the inspiration for a 40-year habit, collecting smiley ephemera, memorabilia, and art.
On the significance of the smiley, Cook explains:
“I became aware of the smiley in 1977 on the cover of the first 12’’ single, Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads. Once on my radar, I loved how such a simple image appeared in so many unexpected places in popular culture, both historically and thematically. As I grew up through punk rock into club culture, it endured in my experience and imagination. Born in the sixties and growing up in the seventies, it has followed me around all my life so it was no surprise to later learn that the smiley was born in 1963, the exact year I came into the world.”
In “Smile High Club”, Cook presents the work of 11 artists who, from pop surrealism to ceramicism, have created works inspired by and honouring the smiley’s creator, Harvey Ball, together with the impact this iconic image has had on popular culture.
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