The Color Red at PS Art Space – Music and art collide in an immersive and fearless installation

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Art and music collide in The Color Red, an installation by musician and writer Moana Mayatrix (of art-rock band MOANA) and artist and designer Lucas Bowers.

The installation, which uses PS Art Space in Fremantle (WA) as its home, is part comic, rock ‘n roll, dark fairy tale and cowboy saga. It’s a mix of music, storytelling, art, animation and fashion.

It explores the archetypes of a woman’s journey from naive princess, to wounded woman, to warrior. And, of course, like its namesake, it’s a creative take on all things RED. The centerpiece is the animated installation, The Color Red, illustrated by Lucas and backed by MOANA’s original killer ballad. The PS Art Space allows the installation to be an immersive visual experience.

At a special event on July 9 before the facility’s official opening, there will be a specially choreographed performance by burlesque actor Essie Foxglove and elemental drone duo Filth Goddess. Plus, of course, WAM-nominated art-rock band MOANA take the stage.

We learn a little more about The Color Red from Moana and Lucas, as they describe their influences and talk about the power of collaboration.

Tell us a bit about the color red.
Moana: The Color Red is a creative collaboration between myself (as musician, writer, director, performer) and Lucas Bowers as artist and designer. ‘The Color Red’ is the title of a new killer ballad written and recorded with my band MOANA. The killer ballad’s narrative is rooted in an exploration of the energies and dichotomies that encompass the color red – from love and passion to violence and rage. So it’s as much a story of love as it is a story of rage – specifically the rage of the repressed wild feminine. To accompany this tale, Lucas created a dark fairy tale/comic book style animated film lasting over ten minutes. We will host a multimedia installation to launch and celebrate this centerpiece alongside a selection of illustrated prints and a clothing collection. The color red will also come to life for a night of live performances with a performance specially curated by us in tones of our mystical wild cowboy heroine, as well as a very special performance by dark burlesque performance artist Essie Foxglove and from experimental drone duo Filth Déesse.

Moana – Image © Shaun Ferraloro

What was it like collaborating on something like this?
Moana: It was truly amazing, and so enjoyable! Working with Lucas, an artist I look up to and constantly admire, has been truly inspiring and invigorating for my creative spirit. We’re both creative control freaks, but somehow it really works in our dynamic to create something really badass and epic with our powers combined. The gifts we bring from our different artistic practices are very complementary and it has been a dream come true to see these visions come to life through collaboration. It reminded me of how great it is to work collaboratively, how many lessons are learned personally through this intimate sharing (oh sweet surrender) and to always dream big.

Moana, talk a bit about your musical influences for those who may not be familiar with your work.
Something that Lucas told me through this process that I found quite poignant is how interesting it is that the music I make is nothing like the music I listen to and that’s like there was this other side of me that I didn’t know existed until I was there in this world of music. I think that’s very true. Of course, I could say the singing and the magical atmosphere of Jeff Buckley or Anna Calvi, the savagery and poetry of Jim Morrison or Patti Smith, the heaviness of Nick Cave or PJ Harvey. . . the kinematics of Florence + The Machine or Sigur Ros. . . The version of Massive Attack or The Dead Weather. . . But really it’s beyond me, it comes from another world and it changes forever. We just got nominated in the “heavy” category for WAM Song of the Year, so I guess we’re now certified on the heavy side of rock.

TheColorRedClothing1

And Lucas, what about your artistic influences and inspirations?
My artistic influences are very broad but definitely tend towards graphic design. My favorite visual artists and heavy influences are artists like Caravaggio, Casper David Friedrich, and Alphonse Mucha, who despite coming from different eras and genres, all tend to be very graphic. Modern artists like Jock and Eduardo Risso and of course Frank Miller continue this tradition. I like this striking contrast and this ability to define a subject, knowing exactly what not to reveal. But broadly, the influences that go into my art are in all mediums, especially music and literature. Any kind of work that builds worlds and can involve the audience in a layered experience of an imaginary world fascinates me. I think this type of storytelling is well served through a tapestry of different mediums all working cohesively with each other to allow the audience to experience a narrative rather than just observe it.

Moana, what does the music in this installation sound like? How does it complete the experience?
“The Color Red” is a murderous ten-minute ballad that crosses the realms of blues and rock with a theatrical and haunting twist. Which is very much like the atmosphere of the installation – part rock ‘n roll, part dark fairy tale and part mystical cowboy story. The music evokes feelings of smoky characters, passionate sex, fierce women, divine rage, grief and broken beauty all together to create an immersive world of RED.

Lucas, talk a bit about your contribution. You illustrated something about Moana’s music, didn’t you? What was the process behind it?
This process developed slowly over a long period of time actually, and as we worked on the idea, many forms suggested themselves to find this one. Originally, Moana approached me to develop the story in comic book form, with the song lyrics forming the written narrative. It was only natural that in doing this we would become more involved with the story to tease out additional elements to accommodate the new medium, and as we spent time doing this it eventually became clear that the only really consistent way for people to experience the full spectrum of the story would be with the movement enabled by the animation. After that, we continued (and continue to!) explore ways to express various aspects until the tale really took on a life of its own.

ARedCar TheColorRedImage © Lucas Bowers

Moana, what does the color red mean to you?
He lives somewhere deep in the core of the earth and at the center of life in a spectrum of intensity. . . Passion! To like! Lust! Sex! Anger! Rage! Violence! Danger! War! Horror! Vitality! I’m alive! My heart! My lips! My blood!

And Lucas, where did you get the inspiration for your work in this installation? What did you hope to accomplish?
Visually, there’s obviously a lot of inspiration here drawn from comic books and film noir. My fashion background also played a part in developing the aspects of the show that deal with clothing, but ultimately the goal here is for the different mediums deployed all to function as explorations of different ways of telling the story. same story. Different facets of the same crystal if desired. . .

How do you hope the public will react to this collaboration?
Moana: Excited. . . Inspired. . . Authorized. . . Provoked to thought and feeling. . . Immersion in a world.
Lucas: Agreed. I really hope people come away feeling something, anything. It’s a powerful and passionate piece, often dark, so it won’t always take you to easy places, but hopefully it will get you somewhere.

The Color Red is at PS Art Space (Fremantle) July 10-13.

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