The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle, the first solo exhibition dedicated to gender-defying artist Matthew Flower (US, b.1972), better known as Machine Dazzle. A provocateur commanding an expanding repertoire of staging, design, performance and music, Machine Dazzle is a virtuoso practitioner of the aesthetic language of gay liberation queer maximalism.
Presented from September 10, 2022 to February 19, 2023, the exhibition brings together more than 80 creations by the artist for stage, performance and street theater, as well as a variety of environments, ephemera, samples materials, photographs and videos. Together they chronicle the metamorphosis of Flower, a closeted suburban kid from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, into “Machine Dazzle”, the genius of queer experimental theater.
On display are Machine Dazzle’s famous collaborations with drag and performance personalities such as the Dazzle Dancers and Mx Justin Vivian Bond, among others, as well as the behind-the-scenes artist’s recent emergence at the center of his own artistic life. Housed across two floors of the Museum, the multimedia exhibition culminates with the first public installation of more than two dozen tour de force costumes created by the artist for himself and his longtime collaborator Taylor Mac to wear in art. of the queer performance concert production, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac (2016), Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist.
“Since its founding, the Museum of Arts and Design has been a home for artists who have reinvented and radically overturned traditional craft techniques in search of a more authentic self-expression,” said exhibition curator Elissa Auther, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. “In its quest for queer design, Machine Dazzle demonstrates how costumes have the power to create a world, why unorthodox materials have become the preferred way for those outside the mainstream culture to describe themselves, and how the excess can both transform and transfigure the queer body.”
A self-taught designer, Machine Dazzle’s costumes are a mesmerizing display of fantastical, densely layered objects and materials that, when draped over the human form, suggest a wearable Wunderkammer of American kitsch, culture and history. . Excessive in scale, color, surface, texture, and movement, the living sculptures constantly morph, adapt, and grow with the familiar embellishments of drag and burlesque, such as sequins, sequins, feathers, beads, rhinestones and ribbons, combined with ping. pong balls, hoop skirts, Slinkys, soup cans, holiday lights, pipe insulation, chip bags, chess pieces, toy soldiers, and more to build and deepen the narrative intent of the artwork . The result is an explosive aesthetic of queer maximalism that happily opposes high culture’s prejudices of extravagance and excessive decoration and embraces these associations as queer to affirm hybridity over purity, reject cultural hierarchies and value different body types.
Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle will be accompanied by a 160-page catalog edited by Rizzoli. The catalog brings together an extensive collection of essays and reminiscences by other performers, historians and cultural critics who consider every aspect of Machine Dazzle’s rich body of work, as well as images of his exaggerated stage creations, made for himself and for the others. , scenic environments, ephemeral, etc.
During the exhibition, MAD will present a series of films curated by Machine Dazzle. The films, dating from the late 1970s and early 1980s, helped shape the aesthetic sensibility of the artist as a child. The series, which will begin this fall, will include screenings of Faye Dunaway’s classic The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) for Halloween and Xanadu (1980) with Olivia Newton-John to mark the artist’s birthday. Film screening attendees can expect costume contests, giveaways, photo ops, and more.
Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle is generously supported by Leslie and Dale Chihuly.
This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more about the impact of National Endowment for the Arts grants on individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Machine Dazzle has dazzled stages via costumes, sets and performances since arriving in New York in 1994. He has collaborated with artists Julie Atlas Muz, Big Art Group, Justin Vivian Bond, Taylor Mac, Chris Tanner, Soomi Kim , Pig Iron Theatre, Bombay Rickey, and has designed projects for Opera Philadelphia and Spiegleworld. Additionally, he has held residencies at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, University of Houston’s Moody Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University, Harvard University’s Theatre, Dance & Media Department, and Mana Contemporary. in Jersey City, NJ. Machine Dazzle’s work has been exhibited at Parsons School of Design in New York, and he contributed to memorable camp-themed looks for Diane Von Furstenberg and Cara Delevingne at the 2019 Met Gala. His work for The Hang was honored with a 2022 Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Costume Design for a Musical. This fall, Machine Dazzle will release their debut album Treasure and perform songs from the album at Joe’s Pub in New York City. Machine Dazzle is represented by Pomegranate Arts.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary creators in all creative fields and showcases the work of artists, designers and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum was founded in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of manufacturing and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program draws on a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, and reveal the craftsmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our daily lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who influence the direction of cultural production and drive 21st century innovation, and fosters a participatory framework for visitors to have direct encounters with works of art and compelling designs. For more information, visit madmuseum.org.