Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aire: The Second Fourfold Root exhibition/performance tonight

The Detroit/Brooklyn art cabal gathers for an evening of living fashion installations and music tonight.

AIRE exhibition poster by Bird Ov Prey

NEW YORK -- Devotion Gallery is pleased to present "Aire: The Second Fourfold Root", a live exhibition of dark fashion works taking place on November 14, as part of "The Fourfold Roots of Everything".

Since 800 B.C., philosophers sought to identify a single arche, from which all substances are formed. Empedocles was the first to propose a set of archai, which he referred to as "the fourfold roots of everything". These four roots became the four classical elements of Greek philosophy and the reigning dogma until recent centuries. Empedocles argued that these four elements drove the cycle of life and the changing seasons -- water initiates spring and becomes air, air initiates summer and becomes fire, fire initiates Autumn and becomes earth, earth initiates winter and becomes water -- and, thereby, united birth and death into one continuous process.

This second "Fourfold Roots of Everything" event will focus on the second fourfold root, air. Plato regarded air as an intermediate element marked by its mobility, lightness, and ability to penetrate. "Aire: The Second Fourfold Root" explores this penetration/protection dichotomy in full detail, most notably with Cyberoptix Spring Collection "Atmospheric/Pressures". This collection is constructed from surplus military balloons and tatted lace doilies, seemingly disparate materials that stem from the same Victorian-to-Cold-War time period, when they had a shared utilitarian purpose of protection and have, since then, been fetishized.

Rubber has traditionally been used as protective clothing: From rain boots to gas masks, hazmat suits to condoms, it is meant to repel fluids and prove impermeable to corrosives and viral agents. Rubber latex gas balloons have been used throughout military history -- for scientific observation, meteorology, espionage, distribution of propaganda, and transportation of munitions -- all with the purpose of protecting territory while at war. During the height of World War II, the use of military balloons was extended beyond simple reconnaissance missions to a form of tactical offensive: The Japanese sent over nine thousand Fu-Go balloon-bombs into the eastbound polar jetstream, one of the few attacks to ever penetrate the mainland United States.

Fetishists currently use rubber latex in a prophylactic manner, not only to protect and repel, but to transform the wearer into another persona through formation of a second skin. Despite its extensive use as a fetishized fashion object, it has yet to be used in couture in any manner other than echoing the hyper-sexualized second skin aesthetic. Cyberoptix's Bethany Shorb departs from recreating a caricature of this second skin and, instead, isolates the body from the viewer through voluminous gather, ruffles, and masses of goffered rubber fabric repurposed from vintage military balloons. Color, weight, and texture of the latex also play an important role in distancing "Atmospheric/Pressures" from fetish-wear: Mottled shades of ebony and coffee couple with its natural amber color to belie its B.D.S.M. heritage.

Shorb complements the hand-fabricated and -repurposed rubber fabrics, both visually and conceptually, with several forms of modified lace and tatted doilies. In addition to their decorative purpose, lace items were used in a protective manner: A Victorian and Mid-Century home staple, doilies and lace runners isolated fine furniture surfaces from hot cookware, and fabric upholstery from hair- and skin-borne emollients. In Elizabethan times, interchangeable ruffled collars protected garments from food spills and human sweat. "Atmospheric/Pressures" references this penetration/protection dichotomy of lace through restrictive pilot caps, exaggerated dunce caps, veils and other traditional religious head coverings, thereby allowing the underlying untouchable surface to show through.

Shorb's exclusive use and repurposing of these vintage and deadstock materials (and subsequent hand-dying, painting, and screen-printing), combine to envelope the conceptual exploration of penetration and protection in a unified romantic aesthetic. Echoing the dark and Victorian elements of "Atmospheric/Pressures", will be fashion installations by local celebrities Bird Ov Prey (Karbine), Mercantile (Kill Devil Hill), Sinner/Saint (Anthony Malat), and the very elusive VDK.

"Aire: The Second Fourfold Root" will take place at 319 Scholes Street in Brooklyn at 10:00 p.m. on November 14, 2009. This event will include dramatic live performances -- by Brooklyn-based Black Swan, Baltimore-based Death Domain, Detroit-based DethLab, and local hero Violec (Ryan Brogan, Subtrak) -- and interstitial deejay sets by Cowboy Mark and Ghostly's Mike Servito. Admission will be $10 for non-members, and free for members. (Visit for membership information.)
Contact Marie at for further information and press materials.



"Pherepaphe: The Fourfold Roots Of Everything" opened at Devotion Gallery on All Hallows Eve, October 31, 2009.

The name "Pherepaphe" alludes to Plato's recontextualization of the Greek goddess Persephone as "wise for seeing that all things in the world are in motion" and who, furthermore, is a part of that dynamic quality. Traditionally, Persephone is known as both the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of Fertility. These seemingly disparate titles collide each year on All Hallows Eve, a ghoulish day that also marks the harvest and descent into winter. Persephone's conflicting roles point to the cycle of life and ultimately explain the changing seasons, a process Empedocles referred to as "the fourfold roots of everything".

"Pherepaphe: The Fourfold Roots Of Everything" visually resolves the contradictory elements of Persephone, through her recasting as Pherepaphe and the primordial of the fourfold roots. It makes the necessary visual references to the dark and the sacred, but also to the organic and the dynamic, the "in-motion" quality that Plato referred to in his renaming of the dark goddess. This group exhibition includes in-gallery work by Arnold Steiner, Bethany Shorb, Carrie Villines, Dan Tesene, Elisabeth Timpone, Jeffers Egan, Keep Adding, and Sougwen Chung. A living installation of dark fashion works in November will further underscore the dynamic and emphemeral qualities of Pherepaphe.

"Pherepaphe: The Fourfold Roots Of Everything" will remain on display until December 14, 2009. Devotion Gallery is located at 54 Maujer Street (near the corner of Maujer and Lorimer Streets) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.



As a practitioner of obsessive ornamentation, Jorden Haley's work encompasses a variety of disciplines, including traditional mixed media, digital media, fashion and jewelry design, graphic design and photography. His work is inspired by the juxtaposition of machinery with the organics of nature, the pristine chaos of the digital world, esoteric occult symbolism, antiquated typographic systems, and bog bodies.



Schooled in both sculpture and photography, Shorb creates elaborate prop, costume, and set constructions that blur the line between editorial fashion photography and performance art documentation. Model, wardrobe, and set each retain the same visual and emotional weight: A hyper-saturated amalgamation exploring the interstitial space between alluring and repulsive, hedonism and restraint, seductive speed of the expressway and still finality of Last Rights.

Bethany Shorb was born in 1976. She received her Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture, with an elective in Photography, from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her works have been widely published in the United States and abroad. As founder of Cyberoptix, she has designed high-tech couture for SIGGRAPH and costumes for screen and stage alike (including Skinny Puppy's 2004 world tour), as featured in FiberArts and Industrial Nation. Her current neckwear line has graced the throats of Motor's Bryan Black and actor/director Crispin Glover, and was featured in the New York Times Magazine, BPM, Nylon, Antenna, Wired Blog, and the Martha Stewart Show.



Mercantile is a collaboration between Mary Beatrice Brockman and Mark Christopher Straiton.

Mary Beatrice Brockman attended The School Of Visual Arts to study sculpture. After leaving, she focused her fine-art skills on restoration, and eventually settled on pattern-making and handmade wallpapers. Brockman meshes the absurdly real with decorative qualities, using overheard stories (such as "The Whale Found with a Bomb in its Belly") as a point of departure.

Mark Christopher Straiton is wild at heart and a jack of almost all trades. He is best-known as co-owner of Kill Devil Hill, a widely-lauded antique shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.



Born in mid-seventies Baltimore, Anthony Malat grew up on the road. Touring extensively with his post-punk hardcore band Universal Order of Armageddon (and later the art punk outfits Love Life and The Bellmer Dolls), he became well-practiced in the obsolete arts of backyard auto repair, hand-poke tattooing, and non-denominational marriage officiation.

His line has taken on many forms over the past few years but one thing has remained unchanged: He works alone, using outdated machines and methods, and has used his lack of formal training to his advantage by inventing unorthodox but practical techniques, giving his work special and unique details.

Sinner/Saint suits have gained an international reputation for being the most unique custom designs available today. Malat's clients include Jon Spencer, Jim Thirlwell (Foetus), Benjy Ferree, as well as members of The National, Interpol, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the New York Dolls, The Hold Steady, Barenaked Ladies, and even N'Sync!

Sinner/Saint and Malat himself have both been press darlings, with full articles or editorial pieces appearing in GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin, Nylon, Black Book, V, Ha'Ir (Tel Aviv), Soma, Swindle, and countless others. He has sold limited-run ready-to-wear collections in New York City, Chicago, and Tokyo.

Sinner/Saint will be introducing a new subdivision that will be available off-the-rack at limited locations and online, as well as jewelry and accessories in association with the partners of the mentor group VDK. In his limited spare time, Malat continues his musical career with the Bellmer Dolls, and makes furniture and sculpture from reclaimed building materials, as well as restoring Victorian-era homes in the borough of Brooklyn, New York.



VDK is a collaboration between Anthony Malat and Jorden Haley. The VDK is not what you think it is.



Obsessed with electronics, feathers, Native American art, pagan ritual, fetish, punk rock, and tribal percussion, Black Swan is the brainchild of Phoenix Perry and Margaret Schedel. Connoisseurs of the romantic and ethereal, they create high-impact, hard-to-predict events beyond the realm of normal expectations. Their music is reminiscent of electronica and punk, steam boats and theremins, and breaking glass. All costumes are handmade and designed around the art of Phoenix Perry.



Mark Christopher Straiton is wild at heart and a jack of almost all trades. He is best-known as co-owner of Kill Devil Hill (a widely-lauded antique shop in Greenpoint) but perhaps better-so as a deejay: He has played some of the most hallowed halls of clubland and some of the darkest basements throughout the United States. Playing dance music of the ages, he is generally thought-of as a rock-a-billy deejay or a techno deejay, but he also plays everything in between.

"The single best deejay in NYC" - Jayson Diamond
"Radical Riot Raver" - Emme Evard
"Mark is techno's Sid Vicious" - Sal P. (Liquid Liquid)



Starting as a solo project of the frontman of acclaimed synthpunk band SIDS, Death Domain is an all-analog, minimal electronic act based in Baltimore. As is clearly referenced by the name "Death Domain" (a term referring to biological molecules involved in the regulation of cell death), the man behind Death Domain bridges the gap between his two main passions in life (i.e., science and music) in order to mold a unique sound. Â Death Domain has released multiple cassettes with future releases on 7", 10", and 12" formats."



With the Dethlab project, Shorb and Doyle seek to define "the new black" by connecting the dots between trends in music, fashion, design and culture: Mashing Ballardian reality with a romance for the glory days of postpunk and the cyberpunk future promised by Blade Runner. Like a modern day McLaren and Westwood, Doyle and Shorb are obsessive consumers, creators, and curators of all things dark, innovative, and beautiful -- often with tongue firmly in-cheek.

In addition to deejaying and event production, they are currently recording original music, have facilitated happenings such as Alice In Wonderland themed tea parties and period costumed croquet socials in abandoned factories, and have used nearly as much fake blood as Gwar. Shorb has performed her own circuit-bent instruments around the country as Toybreaker, and as a member of seminal noise band God and His Bitches. Both have collaborated closely with indie-electronic label Ghostly International on package design and merchandise development, and share the notion of "one foot in the gallery, one in the club." The "Machines That Feel" series is the best example to date of their combined interests in art, music and social-commentary.



Mike Servito is a deejay's deejay, a lifelong music fanatic with a truly unique ability to move a dance floor. Fearless in his seamless transitions from one style to another, Servito has an unpredictability and a deep trust in his music knowledge that has garnered him a cult following and made him an in-demand deejay the world over. Although Servito is a NYC transplant, his deejay style is unmistakably Detroit. Inspired by Detroit radio of the 80s and local deejays in the 90s, Servito came of age in a flourishing electronic music scene, making his debut in 1995 and immediately gaining the attention and respect of his peers and local techno heroes. After a brief hiatus, Servito was lured back into the game through the vigorous encouragement of his close friend Magda, and returned to the deejay realm in 2002. Servito redefined himself, finding inspiration in the new generation of electronic-music producers and deejays.

Mike Servito was among the original "Untitled" residents, whose ranks include Matthew Dear, Derek Plaslaiko, Tadd Mullinix, and Ryan Elliott. He has played multiple Detroit Electronic Music Festivals and has held court with some of the best talent in the world, including artists from heavyweight labels such as Bpitch Control, Perlon, Minus, Kompakt, and DFA, as well as hometown legends Transmat, Planet E, UR, and Spectral Sound. In 2008, Servito became the newest addition to Ghostly's deejay roster, and has happily returned to deejaying and traveling the world playing his favorite music.



Ryan Brogan, the mastermind behind the Brooklyn-based imprint known as Subtrak, came to New York via Detroit, where he began his foray into electronic music nearly a decade ago. As a deejay, he has shared the booth with everyone from Daniel Bell, Misstress Barbara, Kevin Saunderson, and Juan Atkins, to Troy Pierce, Omar S., and Guido Schneider. As a producer, he has released electro under the alias AudioRiot and minimal techno as The Pale (with long time collaborator Christian Bloch, Denmark's infamous techno guru). He currently has several EPs under his belt, a recent full length album (Toybox) released under his own name, and various side projects (such as the insanely popular mash-up project "Trademark Technique").

Brogan hasn't surfaced to perform since the release party for "Toybox" on July 4th, 2009. In response to a special request from Cyberoptix's Bethany Shorb, Ryan has agreed to debut his intense new live Breakbeat/Dubstep project VIOLEC. (Think Bassnectar meets Soulwax!)



Devotion is a new gallery, where space exists as a cross-section of the world at-large. This Williamsburg-based location combines science, art, sound, data, and complexity to reveal our existence as part of an integral whole. Devotion Gallery is located at 54 Maujer Street (near the corner of Maujer and Lorimer Streets) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.



319 Scholes is a new architectural space in the industrial heart of Bushwick committed to the increasing use of trans-disciplinary approaches in order to achieve artistic communication.


CONTACT: Marie at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Dusting off my combat boots for Skinny Puppy tonight in Detroit.
Wait... who am I kidding? They've never collected dust.

Skinny Puppy - Smothered Hope [1984]

RE.TREAT by Úna Burke

Úna Burke RE.TREAT

Úna Burke RE.TREAT

London College of Fashion MA student Úna Burke has crafted this extraordinary collection wearable sculptures.

From the artist:

This is a conceptual collection of wearable art pieces, depicting a series of eight human gestures associated with the cause, the physical and psychological effect and the healing stages of human trauma. Sculptural forms are created around the shape of the contorted female body. A number of pieces are reminiscent of prosthetics and medical braces. This signifies the potential for healing within the boundaries of something which inhibits the body.

Carcass-like in form, each piece is hand crafted from vegetable tanned leather, resulting in a colour indicative of human flesh. They have been produced to be viewed as contemplation artefacts observed in the environment of the gallery and they can be used as fashion accessories when broken down into sections, such as arm pieces, leg pieces, head or neck pieces and shoulder pieces. They could be combined with other garments in flowing fabrics which would create beautiful contrasts with the structured forms of these pieces.

Úna Burke RE.TREAT

References to medical braces and fetish wear are clearly present, but the intricate layering of the leather bands also makes me think of mummification, segmented crustacean shells and particularly Samurai armor. Whatever images and narratives they may inspire, the concept and execution are both breathtaking.

[via Haute Macabre]

Monday, November 09, 2009


Syntaks - "Twentytwohundred" Video from Ghostly International on Vimeo.

Ghostly International's latest signing Syntaks - Danish visual artist/designer Jakob Skott and vocalist Anna Cecilia - have just released the synesthesia-inducing album Ylajali and the lush music video above for our favorite Ann Arbor/NYC/LA-based label.

The richly layered waves of organic and processed sound and phantasmal voices make me want to compare Syntaks to Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra's work as Lovesliescrushing, or a number of acts on 4AD. But Syntaks bring a presence all their own to the shoegazey dream pop party, and make some of the finest, most captivating autumn music you'll find anywhere.

From Ghostly:
Syntaks take their cues from the ambient experiments of Brian Eno and Popol Vuh, the film scores of Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter, and the tonal depth of ‘90s shoegaze bands and early 4AD records. Each sound—from the tinkling of a piano to the snap of a snare drum—has been electronically treated, conjuring an air of unreality that belies the music’s organic construction. Syntaks’ newest record on Ghostly International, 2009’s Ylajali, is a romantic fever dream, a post-rock paean to the transportative, transformative power of sound. Syntaks wraps the couple up like a shroud, absorbing their identities in the pursuit of a heart-stoppingly beautiful vision.

In Ylajali’s beautifully scorched sonic landscape, acres of drones run beneath Anna Cecilia’s wordless sighs; beats crunch like autumn leaves while synthesizers swell, flourish, and disappear. Songs either tramp through hazy forests until they fade into the dark (the Boards of Canada-esque “Love Camp 23”), or stack tone upon tone like translucent building blocks, building to forceful, near-operatic crescendos (the epic “She Moves in Colors”). Syntaks’ Jakob Skott is a drummer by trade, and his percussion—both live and programmed, but always lent an otherworldly sheen—plays the sinister counterpoint to Cecelia’s tender melodies. “The Shape of Things to Come” typifies Syntaks’ dreamlike musical logic, drifting through fields of placid melody until sheets of guitar noise, metallic snares, and choir-like vocals rush in. Once the storm passes, all that’s left is the sun, glinting through the mist.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Nice Collective Time Machine

For their Fall 2009 runway debut entitled Time Machine, San Francisco's Nice Collective plunged into the murky dreamscapes of H. G. Wells, Chris Marker and Terry Gillian-offering a distopic, but euphoric vision of blurred timelines and epochs. Time Machine presents the full realization of the brand's ethos, which is less about clothes than the creation of a full immersive experience. The specially designed runway/installation was the joint collaboration of Nice Collective and friends, who labored with a full team for over three months on the complex schematics. Assembled from hand picked materials (including a salvaged turn of the century carriage, aged steel, antique leather and burnt wood), the resulting environment provided a timely homage to the fashion spectacles of the early nineties.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sesame Street at 40

Happy 40th, you old bird. And thanks for the synesthesia and ordinal linguistic personification!

[Is it any wonder?]