The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is celebrating their 20th birthday on May 31 with their annual art bash, Power Ball XX: Carousal, presented by Max Mara. To commemorate the big milestone, London-based, multi-sensory design duo, Bompas & Parr will treat art lovers to a one-night-only immersive funland, inspired by this year’s theme, carousal. Here we caught up with Sam Bompas—one half of the eccentric art group—for a sneak peek of Bompas & Parr’s pre-party installation at this year’s Power Ball.
When did you and Harry Parr form Bompas & Parr?
“Harry and I have been friends for 21 years—literally the majority of our lives. We decided to set up Bompas & Parr because we wanted to make real things that gave people a vital experience that they couldn’t otherwise have. And our first medium to do that was jello. Creatively, we really complete each other and also production wise in making stuff happen.”
Bompas & Parr is often described as a multi-sensory and experience design duo. Can you explain how you earned this description?
“We [actually] started using polysensory in the studio to differentiate from multi-sensory—these are just internal definitions. The world is multi-sensory, a place where you’re sitting and all of your senses are being addressed. Now, some of the senses might be being addressed in a way that’s not choreographed. For example, there’s a person that might be drinking a cup of coffee, and then you can smell that coffee, but it doesn’t necessarily inform the conversation we’re having right now. Polysensory looks at the idea of choreographing every one of your senses to give you a very specific impression. For example, this conversation would be accompanied by the smell of cotton candy, diesel oil and crushed grass—as you might have at the Carousel—to help inform that. But we also like to go beyond just the polysensory and into a bit of a narrative, as well.”
Take us through your creative process for the installation.
“We started off with having a four-hour conversation with Toronto native, Al Stencell. He’s a showman and also a collector in his own way. He’s got an incredible collection of fairgrounds and carnival paraphernalia. We also worked with somebody who’s actually one of my living idols: Professor Vanessa Toulmin, who founded the National Fairground Archive at Sheffield University. This is a project that we’ve been working on for six months. I find that that’s quite a good amount of time to work on something creatively because in that time it’s all fresh and there’s new learnings. It’s something we’ve never done before, and that’s what makes it exciting for me, so lively.”
What can guests expect to see and experience at this year’s Power Ball?
“When guests come to the pre-party, there’s going to be an ever intensifying journey. It sort of mirrors the sublimation of the insular-ego you perhaps have at the start of ecstatic experiences. It’s going be a real swashbuckler. The installation looks at what happens when the pleasures of the palette collide with the high-Adonic experiences of going to the funfair. We’re going to use every means necessary to cause your brain to explode with endorphins. And also, hopefully for you to have the best experience of your life.”
Tickets to Power Ball XX: Carousal are still available for purchase here.