MULTIMEDIA EXHIBITION BY THE INNOVATIVE FASHION COLLECTIVE FUSES AVANT-GARDE COUTURE, ARCHITECTURE AND VIDEO PROJECTIONS
The adventurous fashion collective threeASFOUR present its latest project,MER KA BA, a multimedia installation fusing avant-garde couture, architecture, and video projections, at The Jewish Museum. Blending ancient symbols with new technologies to evoke a timeless desire for cross-cultural unity, the exhibition includes examples from threeASFOUR’s new spring-summer 2014 collection, featuring 3D-printed textiles made in collaboration with the architect Bradley Rothenberg. The clothing line and its environment are inspired by sacred geometry and tile patterns found in synagogues, churches, and mosques around the world. The exhibition will remain on view through February 2, 2014. threeASFOUR: MER KA BA is presented by The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund.
threeASFOUR, in collaboration with Bradley Rothenberg; rendering of 3D-printed weave for MER KA BA, 2013
Immersing visitors in an ethereal and meditative environment, the installation features a “temple” in the shape of half a three-dimensional six-pointed star designed in collaboration with Studio Christian Wassmann. A patterned floor of mirrors creates the illusion of a complete six-pointed star, while selections from threeASFOUR’s newest collection are positioned throughout the gallery. Visitors are invited to enter the mirror-lined interior of the “temple” structure. Video projections of the five Platonic solids, created with the 3D animation designer Alex Czetwertynski, and specially commissioned sound by composer Raz Mesinai further enliven the space.
Installation views of threeASFOUR: MER KA BA. Exhibition designed by Studio Christian Wassmann. Clothing © 2013 threeASFOUR. Photograph by David Heald © 2013 The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund.
The enigmatic title embraces many spiritual concepts: Merkaba is a mystical form of Judaism; ka ba alludes to the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam and the focal point of the Mecca pilgrimage; Muraqaba is a Sufi meditation practice. But the phrase has even older roots. In ancient Egypt the hieroglyphs mer (rotating light), ka (spirit), and ba (body), placed
NEW YORK – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Designers of Three As Four Angela Donhauser, Adi Gil and Gabriel Asfour attends Paper Magazine’s third annual nightlife awards held at Spotlight Live on October 29, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
together, describe the energy field through which the soul enters the body and ascends to higher planes. In contemporary New Age belief merkaba is a vehicle of transcendence; this idea is represented as two pyramids, interlaced to form a three-dimensional six-pointed star. In the gallery merkaba is ever-present, from the custom fabric prints and the shape of the “temple” to the glowing animations that light the room. The exhibition space will transform into a sanctuary, inviting contemplation.
In sacred geometry, symbolic and sacred meanings are ascribed to certain geometric shapes and proportions. In classical geometry, the five Platonic solids are three-dimensional shapes with the same face on all sides. These include: pyramid (four triangle faces), cube (six square faces), octahedron (eight triangle faces), dodecahedron (twelve pentagon faces), and icosahedron (twenty triangle faces).
Gabriel Asfour, Adi Gil, and Angela Donhauser, the designers of threeASFOUR, were born in Lebanon, Israel, and Tajikistan, respectively, and their diverse backgrounds have influenced their poetic and socially-conscious approach to fashion. For them, haute couture is about more than beautiful clothes; it is both wearable art and a platform for their free-spirited philosophy. Gabriel Asfour (b. Beirut, 1966), Angela Donhauser (b. Dushanbe, 1971), and Adi Gil (b. Tel Aviv, 1974), first worked together under the clothing label AsFOUR in 1998. Since 2005 the trio has been known as threeASFOUR. Their experimental designs have been exhibited at the Musée Galliera – Musée de la Ville, Paris (2002), Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (2003), the Museum at FIT (2005), and the Mode Biёnnale Arnheim (2007, 2011). Their clothing designs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2007 threeASFOUR collaborated with artist Matthew Barney on the performance piece The Guardian of the Veil, staged at the Manchester Opera House. The designers also worked with artist Matthew Ritchie on the live performance of Hypermusic: Ascension at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2010. They have collaborated on ready-to-wear collections with Kate Spade (2005), and Gap (2007). Paper Magazine has called threeASFOUR “true artists [who] insist on following their vision rather than the trend of the moment” while Vogue praised them as “avant-garde designers who will try anything, who will cause a person to reimagine, for instance, what a dress is.” Among the label’s supporters are Björk and Yoko Ono.
On November 10 at 6pm, The Jewish Museum will present an interactive performance combining avant-garde fashion and ancient bread-breaking rituals, conceived by threeASFOUR in relation to the exhibition threeASFOUR: MER KA BA. Part of Performa 13, the only biennial dedicated to new visual art performance across disciplines, Fest is designed in collaboration with culinary curator Naama Shefi, Studio Christian Wassmann, Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, Bradley Rothenberg, and Breads Bakery.
threeASFOUR: MER KA BA is coordinated by Rebecca Shaykin, Leon Levy Assistant Curator. The exhibition is made possible by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Charitable Trust. Generous support is provided by Yoko Ono, the Leon Levy Foundation, Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, and Dr. and Mrs. Steven Rothenberg. In-kind support is provided by Materialise and Bruce Gitlin and Milgo/Bufkin.
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