threeASFOUR's MER KA BA Fashion Exhibit Opens at The Jewish Museum Today
Beginning today, September 15, 2013, the adventurous fashion collective threeASFOUR will 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 exhibitionwill remain on view through February 2, 2014. threeASFOUR: MER KA BA is presented by The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund.
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.
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. 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."
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 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 (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 Bi?nnale 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). Among the label's supporters are Björk and Yoko Ono.