Sunday, December 20, 2009

ZRADAB: A LEGEND UNEARTHED at Barrister's

As invitations go, this one from the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice was more intriguing than most. These recently unearthed artifacts from the lost civilization of Zradab include "inventive mechanical wonders, a Victorian parlor transported from a far away galaxy, invasive topiary species, mysterious fountains and glorified door knockers," a mélange that sounds a lot like New Orleans only more so. And any artist roster that includes Myrtle von Damitz, Kim and Scott Pteradactyl, Delaney Martin and Taylor Sheperd represents the more exotic fringe of the local art scene in an aggressively progressive way. The Pteradactyls and their extended clan are, after all, the creators of the famous exponentially expanding tree house at 1614 Esplanade, one of Nola’s newer wonders. Presumably the artists’ contribution was to restore these long lost antiquities, which all serendipitously bear a striking resemblance to the works for which they were already known in the first place. Touchingly, the show is dedicated to the late local sculptor, Jeffrey Cook, “whose sacrifice was of
the highest order.”

Actually, there is evidence that the Zradab culture practiced human sacrifice and that artists were often victims, a prospect that can be disconcerting considering the speculation that Zradab’s still secret location may be in an uncharted portion of Orleans Parish gerrymandered to include Third World territories. The artifacts themselves include a pre-digital percussion synthesizer by Taylor Sheperd reminiscent of early mechanical player piano technology, a metal, fabric and green mold fountain by Delaney Martin, a partially mummified alligator lamp by Nina Nichols, a large, weirdly globular “key to everything” by Jennifer Odem and Christian Repaal, and an excavated Zradab portrait, above, by Caron Geary. Because many of these artifacts are best observed at night—their creators were apparently part of a nocturnal and very musical culture—a free public performance of Zradabian entertainments scheduled for 9pm on January 3rd at Barrister’s Gallery may offer an optimal opportunity for viewing.  ~Eric Bookhardt


ZRADAB: A LEGEND UNEARTHED: Mixed Media Installations by Delany Martin 
and the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice
Through Jan. 3
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave., 710-4506;  www.barristersgallery.com 
As seen in Gambit