Imagine being able to plug in your music to a gilded piece of art. This Friday, May 10 at 8 p.m., Rustwoods will give you that avant-garde experience at their interactive exhibit, The Ballad of ReBaroque Audio Sound Art.
Blending his musical history and technical skills as a craftsman and visual fine artist, at this exhibit, Rustwoods’ proprietor, Mikal Hameed, and his alter ego artist M11X, calls on us to forget our individualized nature and relationship with our headphones, and demands that we start to share our music as it was meant to be: unplugged from our ears and free. Hameed’s works, so craftily packaged, will have you wondering—is this art, a bluetooth speaker—or both? Also attendees will get to view Hameed’s ReBaroque coffee table book, an intimate 12-month narrative of how his ground-breaking sound art transcended many personal obstacles that through perseverance and faith, redeemed his life, not just as an artist, but as a father and husband.
A few days ago, many were gawking at the fashion adorned by celebrities on the red carpet at the Met Gala’s camp-themed extravaganza. Well, Hameed’s ReBaroque brings camp to Rockaway in an albeit more polished level. Following in the footsteps of the early Dadaists and Fluxus sound experiments, Hameed adds a bit of Baroquian sophistication to the sound experience. All 10 pieces in which the bluetooth speaker is embedded, incorporate lush tapestries, mounted in ornate antique frames that look as though they were salvaged from the drawing room of King Louis XIV. Each piece is named after significant influences in Hameed’s life, not just as an artist, but as a lover of music and most of all, family. For example, one particularly beautiful piece set in a brocaded fabric, awash in a kaleidoscope of warm colors, is named after his wife, Carlotta.
When asked what inspired ReBaroque, Hameed shared, “I guess you can say it boils down to my love for music and art. My grandma used to crochet my headphones into my hat. I was always plugged into music. The people in my family are all musicians. (Hameed is related to James Brown, Otis Day and legendary jazz drummer, Billy Higgins). I am the only one that can’t sing or play an instrument, but I was blessed with the passion to draw and build things. I come from the 80s boom box generation, and I created ReBaroque as a medium for us to move away from today’s headphone existence.”
Hameed said that he created his first ReBaroque piece in 2010. After a series of personal and financial setbacks, including at one point becoming homeless, through faith and perseverance, he never gave up on his dream. With the support of friends, he stayed the course, and was even commissioned by Anthropologie for his designs. With a huge demand for production, Hurricane Sandy hit, and his warehouse in New Jersey was robbed of power, but miracles do happen, and Hameed was able to fulfill the order.
For Hameed, finally introducing ReBaroque to Rockaway is a journey that came full circle with his desire to introduce something that could benefit the community. “Rebaroque’s up-cycled sound frames are made from found wood, reclaimed frames and remnant pieces of fabric or wallpaper. Many of my local friends in the community, including Geoff Rawling, Jerry Rea and Tommy Burke, donated the frames for this Friday’s exhibit. When I first started ReBaroque, the trend at the time was iPods and other MP3 players. Now with the evolution of technology, bluetooth makes the sound installation even more minimalist. These frames literally just plug into the wall, and give a great sound. I really poured my heart into this, and now prefer to make these pieces as one-offs, as opposed to commercially producing them. I want people in beach communities like Rockaway to really have fun listening to their music with these pieces that surely will elicit a conversation about how we listen and share music today. I’m even open to customizing these pieces for boutique hotels and restaurants. The goal is to meld art and music together in a sustainable manner,” Hameed said.
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