The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) welcomed more than 700 friends to celebrate from Harlem to Hollis the opening of Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle.
The show is the first solo exhibition dedicated to the genre-defying artist Matthew Flower, better known as Machine Dazzle.
Sequins, glitter, feathers, rhinestones, and ribbons filled the Museum, as the self-taught designer shared his repertoire of stagecraft, design, performance, and music, showcasing queer maximalism’s aesthetic language of gay liberation.
“Since its founding, the Museum of Arts and Design has been a home for artists who have reimagined and radically subverted traditional craft techniques in search of more authentic self-expression,” said exhibition curator Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at MAD. “Machine Dazzle demonstrates how costumes have world-making capacity, why unorthodox materials have become the preferred way for those outside of majority culture to describe themselves, and the ways in which excess can both transform and transfigure the queer body.”
Warmth, joy, and connection, exuded from the Museum, highlighting the importance of this exhibition to the LGBTQ+ community. “The higher the heels, the closer to the goddess,” said Machine Dazzle to a packed room as the Dazzle Dancers reunited to perform a colorful dance with a provocative finale of no clothing–just glitter! As founding Dazzle Dancer Mike Albo wrote in his essay contribution to the exhibition catalogue, “having fun is a political act,” and only fun was had last night.
Guests included Penny Arcade, Noella Bella, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, Haleigh Ciel, MAD Chair Michele Cohen with Marty Cohen, Amy Fine Collins, Duke Dang, Darlinda, John “Lypsinka” Epperson, Taylor Mac, Andrew Martin-Weber, Dirty Martini, Marsy Mittlemann, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director Tim Rodgers, Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Dan Romer, Jean Shafiroff, Christopher Tanner, Davóne Tines, and MAD Chair Emeritus Barbara Tober.
On view until February 19, 2023, the exhibition brings together nearly 100 of the artist’s creations for stage, spectacles, and street theater, alongside a variety of environments, ephemera, material samples, photography, and video. Together, they chronicle the metamorphosis of Flower, a closeted suburban kid from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, into “Machine Dazzle,” the queer experimental theater genius.
Displayed are Machine Dazzle’s famous collaborations with drag and performance luminaries such as the Dazzle Dancers, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, and Taylor Mac, among others, as well as the artist’s recent emergence from behind the scenes to center stage of their own artistic life.
Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle is accompanied by a 160-page catalog published by Rizzoli, as well as a series of films curated by Machine Dazzle, that helped shape the artist’s aesthetic sensibility.
Starting October, the series includes screenings of the Faye Dunaway classic The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) for Halloween and Xanadu (1980) starring Olivia Newton- John to mark the artist’s birthday. Attendees of the film screenings can expect costume contests, giveaways, photo shoots, and more!
For more information, visit madmuseum.org.
Photo credit: 1) Souleo and Beau McCall. 2) Dane Cuchifrieta and Jo Walden. 3) Jean Shafiroff and Lee Fryd. 4) MAD Chair Emeritus Barbara…y Fine Collins. 5) Dan Romer, Katwise and Mason. 6) Matthew Charles Crosland. 7) Haleigh Ciel. 8) Stella Saint Clair, Bec Stupak Diop and Aba Diop. 9) Chris Tanner. 10) Machine Dazzle and Justin Vivian Bond with Dazzle Dancers. By PMC/Getty Patrick McMullan and Sylvain Gabourey.