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In the studio with… Mandy El-Sayegh

15 June 2021

The London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh trained as a painter – but since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 she has taken up other mediums, using found objects and texts and working with film and sound. Using techniques of repetition, layering and fragmentation, El-Sayegh seeks to explore the processes by which different forms of meaning – bodily, cultural, political – are constructed and deconstructed. A solo show of her recent work, titled ‘Protective Inscriptions’, is currently on view at Lehmann Maupin in Seoul (until 17 July); the artist is also featured in a group exhibition, ‘Body Topographies’, opening at Lehmann Maupin’s London space at Cromwell Place this week (16 June–4 September).

Where is your studio? 
North-west London.

What do you like most about the space?
Anonymity: that there are not many other artists or creatives in the vicinity.

What frustrates you about it?
It’s way too small compared to where I used to work and the music studio above me is active into the night, with paper-thin walls. No shower. Mice.

Passengers (2018), Mandy El-Sayegh.

Passengers (2018), Mandy El-Sayegh. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Mandy El-Sayegh’s studio, 2021.

Mandy El-Sayegh’s studio, 2021. Photo: Alex Zono. Courtesy the artist; Emérgent Magazine; and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Do you work alone?
Yes, I can only work alone.

How messy is your studio?
It’s ordered chaos – I work primarily on the floor. I haven’t seen a pristine painting studio.

What’s the weirdest object in there?
It’s between the wet specimen taxidermy collection and the Fleshlights.

Which artistic tool could you least do without?
A notebook.

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?
A variety of forensic atlases.

Do you cook in the studio? 
There’s no hob here, so only quick, cold things kept in the fridge. It’s definitely not an environment for enjoying food.

What do you listen to while you’re working?
In the daytime, podcasts – at the moment I’m into Rendering Unconscious, Why Theory and Real Crime Profile. At night time, I have music playlists for different moods.

Do you ever sleep in your studio?
Yes, most of the week.

Is anything (or anyone) banned from your studio?
Yes, smoking (according to regulations) and certain folks (they know who they are).

‘Mandy El-Sayegh: Protective Inscriptions’ is at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul, until 17 July. The group show ‘Body Topographies’ is at Lehmann Maupin, London, from 16 June–4 September.