3.4.19 / Brooklyn / New York

With BLACK, MATTE Projects Offers a Silver Lining in Darkness

Finding balance with light

MATTE Projects might be known for their annual Full Moon Festival—a breath of fresh air next to the numerous large-scale festivals that are always vying for our attention—but their other annual event might be even more reflective of their true identity. BLACK returns to New York tonight, and with it comes MATTE’s desire to go beyond music to capture a distinct feeling by using art. “With BLACK,” begins MATTE Projects co-founder Max Pollack, “our goal is to make the contemporary art and the experiential art and the installation art as important as the music and a keystone of what the experience is.”

BLACK formed as an expression of the MATTE Projects identity and ‘black’ represented an easily identifiable starting point. “Obviously New York is known as the place where everyone wears black, but it’s also this color that is irreverent and a little bit counter culture. I think we really were just inspired by he spirit of that aesthetic.” After a few years, they found that artists and musicians were creating artwork or using sounds for the event based on their own notion of ‘black.’ “What’s also been interesting is how other people react to it and how other people interpret it, whether that’s a musician or a DJ or a visual artist, or a collaborative entity that we’re working with, it’s very much a dialogue. What does it mean to you? And for us that kind of ongoing conversation and the nuanced nature is what’s been interesting.”

Whereas Full Moon (which is being renamed La Luna starting this year) was a buoyant summer festival, BLACK was created to serve as a counterpoint to that free-spirited energy. “It was the other side of a spectrum. At the same time they both embody MATTE in spirit—BLACK is about being on the edge between winter and spring, so it’s a more visceral, heavier energy.” “And we really created it as a balance. BLACK is a lot more of my, and our company’s aesthetic. It’s more aligned with the MATTE brand.”

BLACK 2019 [Photo by Luis Antonio Ruiz]

This year the theme for BLACK is the ‘silver edge,’ and Pollack wanted to find a way to reflect the sense of gloom that’s taken the country, but also offer a sense of hope to combat it. “Our times right now are kind of dark, whether it’s politically, or you think of things with AI, and digital, and deep fakes, and I think a lot of people are questioning what’s real, where are we going as a society, and are we going in the right direction. BLACK is a dark concept and I want it to be edgy and provocative, but I also wanted it to have an uplifting feel to it, so the silver edge is about getting through the darkness and finding the silver lining, and this edge that is illuminating.”

That will be achieved with a selection of artists who have brought light-focused works to the space. Dutch collective Children of the Light have created a site-specific piece for the event that will occupy the main space. Japanese artist Shohei Fujimoto uses mirrors and a moving laser projection to create a transforming, changing image. Another highlight is Glenn Kaino’s American flags, flags which were treated in a unique dyeing process that makes the flag look like black and white tie-dye, but when light passes through it the shadow still appears as the regular stars and stripes. “To me that was an amazing representation of our country getting messed up and fucked up and destroyed but still retaining its identity in some way and how people are connected.”

“We’ve got artists who are pushing the boundaries,” Pollack says with zeal, and his hope for BLACK is that it becomes an even bigger platform for artists. This year MATTE partnered with auction house Phillips to curate the artists, with the goal of showcasing both established and emerging artists side-by-side. “We want to have larger installations that can live for a longer time period and then actually program music and other kinds of programming into a multi-day, if not multi-week experience.” For now guests will get to experience it over two-days at Avant Gardner, with DJs including The Blaze, Guy Gerber, and DJ Seinfeld. But as the soundscapes envelop the crowd, the light installations will serve as the focal points, and bring balance to the event. “As it’s evolved, what’s been interesting about what black represents is it’s the absence of light. That’s why we always play with light installations, and contrast the duality of light and dark.”

BLACK takes place at Avant Gardner April 4th & 5th. Tickets can be purchased here.

BLACK 2019 [Photo by Luis Antonio Ruiz]

[by Glenn Kaino]

BLACK 2019 [Photo by Luis Antonio Ruiz]

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