Matthew Marcum is an internationally recognized and critically acclaimed performance artist, currently living and working in Los Angeles, California. Debuting off-Broadway in early January, Marcum’s show Pollock: A Frequency Parable takes on the creative impulses of modern art icon Jackson Pollock in Nature and Purpose, a double bill featuring fellow west coast production A Beast/A Burden, written and directed by Billy Rae Brewton.
Carving out a niche for himself as one of the most original and commercially viable solo artists of the modern American performance scene, Marcum has watched his star rise over the past 2 years in the United States after mounting productions in both Europe, and the UK. With a body of work that encapsulates theatre, music, and visual art, Marcum has set his sites on fashion. Not as a designer however, but as a creative director with future projects planned under the moniker of The Unconventional Empire, a company Marcum founded in 2014 with production coordinator Shannon J Spencer.
“I wanted a platform that gave some flexibility to my work,” Marcum says, “Forming my own company has allowed me to push past the usual definitions of performance and work on projects that I am passionate about ranging from music, to health and wellness, and fashion. It’s a think tank more or less that allows me to partner and collaborate with artists and communities from across the globe. At this point, I’m interested in expanding the idea of performance and working in a creative context with emerging brands and entrepreneurs. Working with the presentation, more so than the product is where I can see us establishing the most value. The idea of creatively targeting opportunities in optics, aesthetics, and visual communications, while providing a push for innovation, identity, and integrity is our mission statement for 2019. It’s going to be a really exciting year.”
Marcum defines his personal style as “refined rock and roll,” preferring premium denim mixed with leather wares, and tailored silhouettes. “I think the fit is one of the most important things when discussing how fashion is visually received. If it doesn’t fit right, it not right. I’m also a fan of fabrication, I prefer softer materials that are more organic and worn. I love vintage pieces that I can pick up at a thrift store and wear with more contemporary labels, it’s all about personal style for me.”
Marcum’s personal style also does not go unnoticed in his performance work. “I like to keep things sleek and clean when conceptualizing my shows. The streamlining of the concept allows the audience to connect with the material without being distracted by superfluous things. It’s always a challenge to make big statements with minimal effort, and I think that goes for on stage as well as off. I’m more attracted to classics than trends. I love how Marlon Brando dressed in his prime, mixing classic tailored pieces with workwear and denim. I also think Jim Morrison had great style, I love the Paris years when he transitioned from leather pants to Pea Coats and button-downs. I think his style was timeless and the definition of cool.”
Marcum seems to identify with the classic American Rebel, which allows him to keep good company with the likes of Brando and Morrison, as well as Jackson Pollock and Christopher Burden. Nature and Purpose opens as a special engagement on January 3, 2019, at The Soho Playhouse in New York.
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