Launching his eponymous line in 2005 at the age of 18, Liberian-American unisex prodigy Telfar Clemens has developed a strikingly original and democratic design vocabulary. Laying the blueprint for today’s black avant-garde, TELFAR was genderless a decade before it became a trend, launching projects with a remarkably horizontal cultural impact—from collaborations with Solange Knowles at the Guggenheim Museum to designing the nationwide uniforms for over 10,000 employees of the US fast-food chain White Castle. After winning the 2017 Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund, TELFAR is poised to take its place in the foreground of America’s fashion future.
At Spazio Maiocchi, KALEIDOSCOPE presents TELFAR’s first project in Italy, Nude, a fashion presentation without a single garment, eloquent to the brand’s progressive aesthetics and artistic DNA. The exhibition centers around a 30-feet-tall nude image of the designer by photographer Rob Kulisek surrounded by ten nude and genderless sculptures designed by American artist Frank Benson and manufactured by German state-of-the-art mannequin factory Penther Formes—an updated version of the iconic mannequins presented by TELFAR in the 2016 Berlin Biennale. The show is completed by a short film about Telfar’s apartment building in Queens, New York, by filmmaker Finn MacTaggart; and a musical composition written for clapping by Aaron David Ross in collaboration with artist Ryan Trecartin.
TELFAR’s exhibition will also take over the 3x6m billboard in the courtyard of Spazio Maiocchi, and will be accompanied by a book of images by New York photographer Jason Nocito, a performance by South-African musical duo FAKA, and an exclusive limited-edition T-shirt.
Music and sound design by Aaron David Ross
Libretto by Juliana Huxtable
Stage design by Paul Kopkau, Felix Burrichter, and Michael Bullock
Screenplay by Xavier Cha and Robert Moulthorp
Lighting design by Joe Levasseur
Costume design by Avena Gallagher
The Pike and the Shield: Five Paradoxes Danced By Nozomi Iijima, inspired by CHANEL Nº5 L’EAU
Japanese ballet dancer Nozomi Iijima performs a self-choreographed video directed by Lola Partel Oliva, inspired by the paradoxes of Chanel’s latest fragrance campaign for Nº5 L’Eau. Equal parts surreal and spectacular, the film features Nozomi dancing the paradoxes of her own life and art through the streets of Tokyo and beyond.
Danced and choreographed by Nozomi Iijima
Written and directed by Lola Partel Oliva
Music by Lafawndah & BRRR
Additional music by Aaron David Ross
Installed at Clearing Gallery with ‘Garden (2017)’,
Indigo powder, dad’s dirt, seafood waste, blown glass, clay, LED lights, fiber optics, electrical wires,
found wood, roots of dead trees, bamboo, banana leaves, coconuts, carpet, resin,
prayer objects for the naga, IV bags, old car parts, dead pine trees, surround sound
…And the award for most time-travel-friendly, culturally adaptable, contextually annoyed, unisex specific, panic-onomical, worn equally by both offense and defense — goes to: TELFAR. Fill in the fucking blank. Meaning is in the eye of the beholder; and it’s a responsibility. Fill in the fucking blank. — Ryan Trecartin, TELFAR F/W 2017
TELFAR F/W 2017 continues the designer’s starkly original, trend-agnostic, anti-identitarian, deconstruction of garments and their meanings. This season the body’s meridians are fault lines in which not only colors and fabric — but entire genres of garment can give-way to another: creating hybrid forms like puffer-peacoats; track-jacket-dress-shirts, wool-slack-pum-pum-shorts and cargo-knickers. A jewel-tone palette in nylon, knit, wool, cotton, fleece and denim appear at times all in a single garment, creating a total-look that is impossible to place. Somewhere between Patagonia and Shenzhen TELFAR continues to visualize an empty horizon in a fashion industry where more and more people, crowd an ever narrowing aesthetic consensus. 2017 is a good year not to fit in.
‘THROAT’ is the new album by composer/producer Aaron David Ross (ADR). Arriving as the New York artist’s second release on PAN, ‘THROAT’ is made entirely from vocal sounds. It could only be crafted in the ultra-present; an age where the poetry of songwriting is flattened into catchy hooks. As words are sliced into sounds, ideas are reduced to sibilant syllables that still contain a range of emotional power, but deliver it in subversively different ways.
‘THROAT’ exploits these ways, borrowing vocal fragments from everywhere to collage a choral congregation of singing servers; pinging one another to create open-source equal-opportunity electronic pop music. Reichian polyrhythmic EDM drops into Bieber-esque beatboxing. Hypothetical K-pop stars conduct holographic choirs in altruistic ritual. Virtual summer festival DJs transcode into pure phonemes; anthropomorphizing formant-shifted vacuums of communication. When you drop the cargo of making sense, you can go so much faster.
As a classically trained musician inspired equally by pop and contemporary art & technology practices, ADR’s work has distinguished itself through its formal deliriousness and playful tenor. Besides ongoing collaborations with an international community of vocalists, producers, artists and fashion designers, Ross releases solo recordings, composes music for film, TV and advertising, and maintains a practice of live performance and sound installation.
The release is mastered by Jeremy Cox featuring artwork by Alex Gvojic.
01. Every Node
02. Lost Ya
03. King David
04. No Sweat
08. U Never
New York-based producer ADR, who also works as one half of the duo Gatekeeper, has shared a collage-based new video for “Every Node,” off his recently released LP Throat. The self-produced clip evokes the experience of scrolling through a Google image search for “mouth,” and builds on conceptual questions explored on the new album about the relationship between mediated communication and the voice. Every sound on Throat is a vocal sample of some kind; “Every Node” finds ADR using the technique to produce something that’s equal parts funny, gorgeous, and uncanny.
He spoke to THUMP about the how he arrived at the album’s concept, the way stock sounds became members of the record’s virtual band, and the innovative production styles of unknown YouTube users in an interview conducted via email.
THUMP: Throat seems to play with the relationship between materiality (the voice) and meaning (ideas and emotions). The malleability of this relationship is arguably pretty important in our “post-truth” moment, particularly in how it can be disrupted or disjointed insidious intentions. How would you characterize the way you approached the vocal samples here?
ADR: Yes exactly…while the distance between our ideas and our means of communicating them has never been shorter, it is consequently so short that no conclusions exist.
A musics’ linguistic and syntactical comprehensibility isn’t significant in the clickbait era. The affect of a melody made from a digitally-processed string of unrelated syllables has the ability to reduce centuries of language into binary noise. The axis between word and sound is a space rich with opportunity, blurring legibility for the sake of freeing form.
While this is a compelling facet of today’s music, the same phenomenon elsewhere creates dangerous geopolitical distortions. By valuing moments over stories, we get the visceral thrill of experience with no understanding of context. We find the information we need to fight white supremacy alongside baby monkey gifs and conspiracy theories. All contributions are chucked into the void, with spare means to distinguish anything from anything else.
This equal-opportunity relationship to quick and often illegible information has an inevitably accelerationist effect on art making. I think my approach to vocal sampling on this record was largely guided by that.
How did you arrive at the voice as a subject of exploration for this record? Was it a gradual process or was it more of an epiphany?
Last winter I discovered some software designed for producers trying to create the Skrillex/Bieber vocal chop effect that took over the airwaves in 2015. Realizing how flexible these tools are, I began to visualize a world entirely built from processed vocal sounds, unleashing the vibrancy and expressive power of the voice for every instrument in the mix. Many of the voices come from stock production libraries, where ideas and emotions exist like presets, ready to stand in for any kind of emotional expression. These stems ended up working nicely when treated like members of the band, processed to each contribute something small and personal to the greater whole.
What kinds of research did you find yourself doing for Throat?
I become obsessed with the way vocal music has functioned historically, through chanting and prayer, and the neurochemical responses the brain has to the collective experience of singing together. I came across some amazing ethnomusicological recordings archiving polyphonic and polyrhythmic vocal chanting styles from around the world…and I wondered about the process of transference from a pure physical action to a considered digital facsimile, what would be retained and/or lost? What could be found?
I also studied contemporary pop music, and specifically acapella covers of pop songs on YouTube, which is a surprising place to find some groundbreaking vocal production techniques. These YouTubers who decide to sing every instrumental part of a Top 40 banger really know how to make the voice fill every frequency, and mimic just about every timbre imaginable. Although the affect here might be way too far on the thespian spectrum for most tastemakers, lol.
How do the explorations on the LP relate to what you were doing with Deceptionista last year? Would you say there’s a clear recurring theme in all the different projects you’ve undertaken?
Our collective experience in the ultra-present is always in the foreground of my thought process, so I feel like the links between my projects tend to be more theoretical than musical. Musical styles to me are like porous containers which can sift through difficult ideas and make them friendlier to different folks, based on their individual entrance narratives. This means that the music frame must be always changing if the message is to reach its maximum velocity. We must be fearless in asking questions about how technology is remapping our modes of communication and restructuring the greater value of meaning itself…we must identify when it is working to connect us, and when it is dangerously dividing us apart.