In the 1990s, Sydney artist Hany Armanious had a eureka moment, discovering images of elves and dwarves in the swirling textures of cheap wallpaper. This experience inspired the creation of his installation, Selflok. In it, a rig of cauldrons, alembics, and beer steins rest on a makeshift platform of fake-wood polyester shelving, crowned with a pergola. Littered with bits-and-bobs, like a giant mantlepiece, Selflok is a whimsical evocation of a pre-industrial artisanal past. It has been described as Santa’s workshop, a hobbit foundry, an elven distillery, and a Middle Earth drug lab. Armanious looks behind the scenes, into the artist’s studio, or rather his fantasy of it. ‘It is almost as if we were witness to a primal scene in the life of the work’, wrote Australian art reviewer Eve Sullivan, at the time.
Selflok is largely made from hotmelt, an easily melted and shaped syntetic latex. Armanious first experimented with this material during a residency at the 18th Street Arts Complex in LA. He presented Selflok in his first US solo exhibition at LA's UCLA Hammer Museum in 2001.
Hany Armanious was born in Egypt in 1962. In 1969, he moved with his family to Sydney, where he currently lives. In 1993, his work was chosen for the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale, and, in 1995, he participated in the Johannesburg Biennale. In 1998, he was awarded the Moet and Chandon Australian Art Fellowship. His exhibition Morphic Resonance was at City Gallery in 2007. Armanious' show The Golden Thread was Australia’s contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale. Selflok is in the collection of New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.
Hany Armanious is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; Foxy Productions, New York; and Michael Lett, Auckland.