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The following are various feature articles and interviews about DAMNED throughout the years since our premier in 2008.

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 23 2013

DAMNED VI

Ironic Salvation

By Robert del Valle

Symphony Insomnium by Rivenis

Symphony Insomnium by Rivenis

Writing about the DAMNED exhibit consists essentially of two things: 1) an overall description of the event itself and 2) a more in-depth examination of what the exhibit and the participating artists are trying to achieve. The first task is easy. The second one always requires serious thought, a careful choice of words and a great deal of patient listening beforehand.

Let’s start with “easy”, shall we? DAMNED VI, which will commence on 10/24, is (like its predecessors) most definitely NOT a Halloween event. The curators are all but resigned to the fact that certain superficial things will always prompt the public to confuse this show with popular goblin-galas and such, but please be advised that there will be no bobbing for apples at the Tangent Gallery. We are talking about a three-night event that will be showcasing art, drama, delicacies, beverages and diversions. Each evening will be devoted to a particular thematic motif. The Darkness is intended to be “a night of introspective exploration within the shadowed and primal essence of self.”  The Enlightenment on 10/25 is being described to us just a tad more incendiary with “the extrospective self enlightened through light, fire and the ethereal.”  10/26 is The Masquerade – and this is where DAMNED touches poignantly and beautifully on everything from Poe to Leroux.  These hours between dusk and dawn will be devoted to “a festive celebration through a menagerie of exotic cirque, sensuous rhythms and masquerade” and highlighted by a formal mask-mandatory Masquerade Ball and an elegant six-course aphrodisiac-inspired dinner.

Saturnalia by Niki Urban

Saturnalia by Niki Urban

Okay, now we tackle the somewhat daunting part of this assignment.

DAMNED is a collective exploration of questions we frequently turn away from or are too wary to ask ourselves. It is an invitation to venture into that “purgatory” where certain moral absolutes are briefly held in abeyance. DAMNED is a limbo where darkness is an ironic illumination of the soul – the real territory of truth or (at the very least) the too frequently avoided terrain of eternal desires and hungers.

But before you walk away thinking DAMNED is an aesthetic “black mass” or worse, let us also emphasize that this is a marvelous and entertaining party that in less than a decade has become as popular as The Dirty Show. Between philosophical musings and moments of belated self-realization … well, believe us, you’re going to enjoy some first-rate entertainment.

Special guest artist curator Adam Owen Layne summed up that point very nicely.

“DAMNED is a class act – simple as that.  Detroit has a bevy of underground, alternative and fun events that cater to a younger crowd, though DAMNED has found a away since day one to cater to art enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.  We have numerous art collectors from the suburbs who come back each year because A) the ambiance and entertainment is something you can’t get elsewhere, B) the art submission get better and more unique and C) the attention to detail that goes into the planning is all so specific to ensure a memorable experience.”

History of  A Fallen Faith by Charles Alexander

History of A Fallen Faith by Charles Alexander

We posed a few questions about DAMNED VI to Detroit artists Charles Alexander and Shadia Zayed.

If the show has a paramount theme, what do you think it is?

ALEXANDER: Over the centuries artists have given visual and musical expression to what it means to achieve the status of being “damned”, either temporarily or eternally.  Perhaps it’s a predisposition in the creative psyche.  Viewers and auditors alike enjoy a scare, a subliminal reminder that we’re all mortal, tainted as it were with “original sin”.  In contrast, the DAMNED show is tongue-in-cheek totentanz about life that is hellbent and very much outside the traditional, fundygelical holier-than-though bigotry that permeates much of American religion and politics today.

ZAYED: The guiding theme is to afford visual and performance artists a venue to tackle the darker side of our psyches artistically. This isn’t a theme that is readily welcomed or understood in most art marketplaces, and DAMNED not only provides a forum, it also encourages the most deeply personal and honest work from its contributing artists.

Deeply Rooted VIII by Shadia

Deeply Rooted VIII by Shadia

There have been complaints that DAMNED is just a celebration of morbidity. What is your response to that? And, is morbidity a legitimate style to employ if an artist wishes to address the nature of beauty or the reality of our mortal nature?

ALEXANDER: A celebration of morbidity? That’s nonsense! And it echoes the oh-so familiar complaint that Halloween is a celebration of morbidity. Keep in mind that DAMNED is a multi-media happening with paintings, photos, music and performance. The exhibition is not only the art, but the participants, the ambiance, the mood, the excitement, the mutual vibration that for a few evening hours one can feel, ‘hey! I know I’m damned, but isn’t it exciting?!’

ZAYED: I disagree with the “celebration of morbidity” label, but frankly, I wouldn’t be troubled if it WERE strictly that. I see DAMNED as an investigation of humanity in so much as we all have personal ‘demons’ to fight. Morbidity, like literally any topic, can be validly addressed artistically, but that is not the exclusive scope of this exhibition. Darkness, struggle, fear, pain – all those raw emotions are showcased within this unique show. But there’s also beauty, love and hope intermingled as well.

Frida by Aunia Kahn

Frida by Aunia Kahn

What does the term “damned” mean to YOU in the context of your own life and experiences?

ALEXANDER: As a gay man, and someone who was raised as a Southern Baptist, I learned in subtle and not-so-subtle ways what it meant to be damned in the eyes of the church, the law, psychiatry, the establishment. Sometimes my own art serves as a catharsis of that long-ago emotional residue. Many of my creations are satires of traditional, irrational, theocratic beliefs.  During the last DAMNED exhibition, I met talented black artist Carl Wilson and his wife Mariuca, a photographer.  Both were high-ranking JWs who were disfellowshiped a few years ago. Their art is both creative and therapeutic – a way to address years of what they now see as cult control. May I also mention here that I’m looking forward (as always) to works created by Jack 0. Summers.

| RDW

DAMNED VI • 10/24-10/26 • Tangent Gallery/ Hastings Ballroom • 715 E. Milwaukee St., Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 24 2012

DAMNED V

The Damned Don’t Cry

By Robert del Valle

Gabinete de Maravillas by Santiago Caruso

Gabinete de Maravillas by Santiago Caruso

Semiotics, a rather abstruse branch of linguistics, maintains that a thing is properly defined by the many things it Isn’t, rather than the descriptive terms used to describe what it is. Therefore, let’s clear up a few matters about DAMNED V before we go any further.

DAMNED is traditionally an October art event. However, it is not a pumpkin patch party or a ghoul gala. If you’re looking to get your Halloween mojo revved up, cool – but the overall theme of this three-day exhibit has nothing to do with bobbing for apples or Scream masks. And no matter how politely you ask, Dixon won’t play “Monster Mash” on his violin.

A great deal of the imagery will touch upon the libidinous (especially at the masquerade party), daring to ask if our procreative instinct is nothing more than the siren call of a beautiful desperation.

And last, this showcase Is not a fatuous exercise in morbidity. Much of the art will strike you as disturbing or even nightmarish, but behind every canvas or physical performance is a rational desire on the part of an artist to present an idea or pose a question about our shared nature as sentient creatures cursed or blessed with the stamp of mortality.

The Martyr by Ash Sivils

The Martyr by Ash Sivils

That is what DAMNED tries to communicate with the deliberately ironic phrase “enlightened darkness.” Despite centuries of philosophy, spirituality, psychology, and the occasional decade or two of nihilistic abandon, we are mysteries to ourselves and to others. There is something Intrinsically disturbing about the human condition that defies bland optimism, but does not surrender entirely to a black or blank wall of defeat.

Now let’s get down to basics. DAMNED V (like its predecessors) is a consecutive three-night affair with each evening following a thematic motif. 10/25 Is The Darkness, a nocturne of “introspective exploration within the shadowed and primal essence of self.” This opener also includes an intimate VIP preview and formal absinthe tasting. 10/26 is The Enlightenment which finds the extrospective self illuminated by light, fire and the ethereal. 10/27 is The Masquerade, a formal and mask-mandatory soiree highlighted by a 13-dish strolling dinner and the strings of Dixon’s Violin.  As for the featured artists and performers … well, as usual it’s an embarrassment of riches and we can only name a few. Highly recommended from this desk: Aunia Kahn, Charles Alexander, Joshua Wilde, Carl Wilson, Jerry Shirts, Ryan LaVoisin, Santiago Caruso, Michele Parliament, MonkeyTeeth and (of course) all the Devil Girl hostesses.

And now a brief Q&A period with two individuals who have a vested interest in all this. DVS is (along with Joseph Ferraro, Dekilah, A. Owen Layne and Danielle Doxie Kaltz) one of the principal curators of the event. Linden is a featured artist.

DVS

DAMNED has a rather provocative and cerebral mission statement. Why so serious?

Grand Architect by Aaron White

Grand Architect by Aaron White

The DAMNED mission statement is worded to attempt to convey the true essence of the exhibition. For many of us artists, our greatest pains become the greatest inspirations towards our greatest works. These darkened times, though most often viewed as the nadir (or lowest point) of life, are more often the zenith sloping towards personal realization, and sometimes, enlightenment. Unfortunately, this intensely powerful and personal art is many times displayed within a freak show ambiance where our innermost demons encapsulated within our media then become “entertainment” for simple “oohs” and “aahs”. This art is the Eucharistic blood and flesh of the artist given to us to absorb and reflect upon…perhaps connect…perhaps become a part of ourselves. At DAMNED, we exhibit these works with all the respect deserving of this deeply intimate art.

Even after five shows, do you still get a guest or two thinking DAMNED is going to be another Halloween bash?

Yes, but mainly from those who have either never attended DAMNED or just simply do not relate to the more introspective aspects that we immerse ourselves in. Holding DAMNED around the Halloween season can also add to this confusion, especially to those who arrive to our formal Masquerade Ball discovering that Halloween-ish costumes are not allowed. However, our mission statement has always expressed that DAMNED is, and always will be, a Devil’s Night exhibition that embraces the mindset of the phoenix rising from the ashes of it’s unfortunate destructive past.

Linden

What attracts you as an artist to an exhibit of this nature?

Nocturne by Linden

Nocturne by Linden

I love the excitement and energy of the Damned Exhibition—it’s truly a spectacular and multi-sensory encounter. I appreciate the vibrancy of the works and the people at Damned. Pairing art with a highly charged atmosphere creates a powerful experience for the participant. Damned encourages artists to create work that Is Introspective, difficult, inventive and daring. Personally, it’s always an opportunity to take a deep breath and swim into the darker depths, to go exploring for the monstrous or frightening or difficult and stare hard. Can I can Interpret that into an image that’s arresting and beautiful? I am delighted by the challenge and look forward to participating every year. That being said, I need to push my work further, which is both exhilarating and terrifying.

DAMNED embraces an idea that is universal and would no doubt attract the talented artists of any city, but is there something in it that mirrors what Detroit is today?

I regard the Phoenix to be an icon for Detroit, “We hope for better things—we will rise from the ashes.” It’s about resilience. We struggle and we see the struggle around us. We experience low places where it’s all shadow and the sun cannot touch us. But dammit, it’s a trial by fire and by going through it we are transformed. We hold our ground. I see Detroit constantly transforming, deeply rooted with the good bones of its beautiful architecture and its vivid history. Growing from that are all these magnificent vines of creativity that engulf practically everything -beautiful graffiti hidden in the depths of ruins, renegade public art on the backs of street signs and I could keep talking about Detroit art for hours. And there’s that flourishing, brave ingenuity of its people. Detroit is forever scarred, but this does not diminish its radiance—at least, not if you know what to look out for. All of this goes for the people that make up the Damned experience as well.

| RDW

DAMNED V • 10/25-27 • Tangent Gallery/Hastings Ballroom • 715 E Milwaukee St, Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 25 2011

DAMNED IV

The Beautiful and Damned

By Robert del Valle

The Judge II by Andreea Cigaro Anghel

The Judge II by Andreea Cigaro Anghel

A belated blessing has finally been bestowed on DAMNED. This annual Detroit art exhibit – now in its fourth year and now enjoying a considerable amount of international attention – is no longer cursed with an identity problem.

It all started back in 2008. No one knew at first what to make of the thing. Preliminary ads and the little information released hinted of “disturbing revelations about the human condition” and the like. Oh, another Halloween event we all thought. Nope. Some of the paintings and photos were certainly imbued with an erotic flavor. Oh, great – another Dirty Show! Not even close. An “open house” at Noir Leather?  RDW actually phoned Keith Howarth asking if this was the case and the reply was negative.

What DAMNED turned out to be was a celebration – a celebration of what the show’s organizers paradoxically referred to as enlightened darkness. It’s still a celebration. It’s also a refreshing example of artists taking a unique approach to the very spirit of their shared calling.

Art, in all its respective forms, is essentially a reflection of ourselves and the nature of being. The mind perceives the world and comes to believe that it has more than a mere physical place in it; that it is capable, in fact, of a creative intrusion or two. What all this prompts is nothing less than a focused attempt to mimic the energy of the universe.

Strata Of Self by Vincent Castiglia

Strata Of Self by Vincent Castiglia

Inevitably, this unique partnership between brain and hand would complement the philosophical musings and psychological queries of our day; everything from the mind-body conundrum posited by Descartes to the graver (or more liberating) conclusions that Freud brought to light.

And it is in this ambiguous territory that DAMNED sets up its tents – a neutral ground where emotion and thought/reaction and moralizing are all suspended briefly. This show examines (with frightening clarity at times) the myriad number of masks we wear behind our sentient natures. And it does so by a very novel method – by allowing artists to simply tear those masks off. The works you’ll see will be done in a variety of mediums and will be executed in a spectrum of individual styles. What they will all have in common is a thematic motif far more intriguing than these words can truly limn. And like all exhibits where artists labor enthusiastically with a shared goal in mind, the interpretation and acceptance of that theme will be left to you.

The Reversal of Blessings Through Man Made Celebrity by Jeffrey Scott

The Reversal of Blessings Through Man Made Celebrity by Jeffrey Scott

Many of those artists were gracious enough to leave us a few personal observations – but before you read them, please let us mention something that may have been overshadowed by the prose above. For all its seriousness and for all its Masque of the Red Death mystique of decadence, DAMNED IV is first and foremost a Detroit art show -it goes without saying that a spirit of entertainment will definitely be part of the proceedings. In addition to visual entrees, there will be generous servings of music and dance. Delicious victuals haven’t been overlooked either.

The show will hold court for three consecutive nights and each of evening will embrace and highlight a distinct mood: “The Darkness” (10/27), “The Enlightenment” (10/28) and “The Masquerade” (10/29). Features will Include a VIP Preview/Artist Reception, a formal absinthe tasting courtesy of the good people at Kuble Blanche, a 13-dish strolling dinner from the kitchens of Detroit’s legendary Caucus Club, a glorious sampling of honey wines provided by B Nektar Meadery and a masquerade ball worthy of anything penned by Poe or Leroux. There will be the pleasing pulchritude of the Devil Girl hostesses to charm your hearts. The entertainment roster? We think names like Satori Circus, Detroit Flyhouse, Joshua Wilde, Dixon’s Violin, Ryan Gates, Chantel, Amber, Justene and Jade need no further embellishment from us.

We also think everyone who shows up is going to have a damned good time. Kudos to DVS, Joseph Ferraro, Adam Owen Layne, Les Barany and all the participating artists.

| RDW

DAMNED IV • 10/27-29 • Tangent Gallery/Hastings Ballroom • 715 E Milwaukee St, Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 26 2010

DAMNED III

Dark Art Comes To Light

By Robert del Valle

Feature Cover - Bleed by Chad Michael Ward

Feature Cover – Bleed by Chad Michael Ward

DAMNED first appeared three years ago as a carefully structured exhibit focusing on the duality between flesh and spirit. Initially (and erroneously) viewed at the time as just another Halloween show, it has now come into its own and is recognized as a major Detroit art event. Needless to say, it’s also a great party with guests drawn principally from the city’s creative milieu.

DAMNED III will take place (once again) over three consecutive evenings (10/28-30) at the Tangent Gallery/Hastings St. Ballroom with its conclusion on Devil’s Night highlighted by a masquerade ball. Earnest preparations have been going on since the beginning of this month and even more works are being delivered as you read this. And, as usual, conceptual art photographer DVS and artist Joseph Ferraro are sharing the task of producing and curating it.

Congratulations! Once again you and your brilliant colleagues/collaborators are giving us one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the year — and one that is still enveloped by a certain degree of ambiguity compared to other events. What IS the DAMNED exhibition, and what is it NOT?

By definition, the word “damned” refers to being “condemned” as well as “loathsome.” However, it Is also less commonly defined as being “complete” and “absolute.” DAMNED, now in Its third fiery year, Is a fine art exhibition of extraordinary creations that often emanate from within the artist’s most introspective or darkest hours. It is a prodigious congregation of 100+ artists from across this world, from the infamous to the freshest of talent, gracing us a glimpse within the diverse shadows of Id and ego … of overall mind and encompassing soul enwrapped within an elegant ambiance of ethereal soundscapes and art-inspired cirque/butoh-inspired performances with the final night, a formal masquerade ball.

Shekhina by Leonard Nimoy

Shekhina by Leonard Nimoy

What DAMNED is “not” is a Halloween-themed art event. You will not find witches, ghosts nor zombies here, but more the enchantments of emotional entrapments, the hauntings of pasts and the return towards the living. What DAMNED also is “not” is something malevolent and generally evil. Our focus on Detroit’s historic institution of Devil’s Night is not to glorify the time when the city destroyed itself in flames from within, but to celebrate the diverse human spirit as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The decadent poets of 19th century France alluded to a species of pleasure that was neither sentient nor emotional — a suspension of will where nothing except an awareness of the external was perceived. Granted, that sounds a little like an absinthe hangover, but do some of the exhibit’s works come near to that goal?

This is best discussed during the VIP Preview’s absinthe tasting.

Why do people love masquerades — or rather, what is it about a masquerade that heightens a sensual experience?

The enchantment of masquerades is primarily the anonymity. It is a veil that can allow one to become slightly different than the unveiled self. It is the same attraction of the Internet, where some portray themselves as their Inner selves or become free of self-imposed Inhibitions. The Introvert can become the extrovert … the repressed, the uninhibited. It can allow us to break down our personal barriers to become free to become a little more, even if for a moment, of who we always wished to be. When we first decided to add a masquerade ball last year that was dress code enforced and mask mandatory while prohibiting Halloween-ish costumes, a few colleagues stated we were insane, with it being on Halloween weekend. That night was a truly beautiful and amazing night with hundreds of patrons finely dressed in elegant masks, some of their own creation. And judging by the various posts online of people excited about their new ensembles and masks, this year will be even greater.

Bip and the Silent Outcry by Marcel Marceu

Bip and the Silent Outcry by Marcel Marceu

If there were certain painters or artists from the past that you could bring back to be in this exhibit with original works, who would they be and why?

One who comes immediately to mind is Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Considered to be the “father of modern art,” I was introduced to his dramatic and sometimes horrifying works, inspired by war and his own dementia, at an early impressionable age through books my father brought from his homeland of Spain. Paintings such as “Courtyard With Lunatics,” “Colossus” and “Saturn Devouring His Sons” still resonate greatly the fear, anguish and pain he lived. The other, of no lesser personal admiration, is French sculptor Camille Claudel. Through the suffering and torment of her notorious relationship with Auguste Rodin, to whom she became muse, model, confidante and lover, she created the most wondrous of works such as “The Mature Age” and “Shakuntala” before succumbing to and being committed for mental Illness.

“Featuring the introspective works of Leonard Nimoy and Marcel Marceau.” How did you manage THAT? And yes, we are asking it respectfully.

This was not an easy task, but something amazing rarely Is. With our namesake and nearness to Halloween, our first impressions given are often horror-based, which can sometime create barriers on art requests. However, with great diligent work from guest curators Les Barany and Adam Layne, we were all able to convey respectfully how Nimoy’s spiritual Shekhina series and Marceau’s introspective paintings fit perfectly within our underlying theme and focus. Our goal has been to create as much within our means a world-class exhibition of deeply introspective fine works from artists worldwide. In the first two years, we were fortunate to feature the works of Oscar winner HR Giger and rock legend Marilyn Manson. The inclusion of Leonard Nimoy and the late Marcel Marceau this year in DAMNED III is now an amazing segue towards our new tagline: “An Exhibition of Enlightened Darkness.”

Emotional Infarction by Paige Reynolds, Time Eats All by Christopher Ulrich, Innate Perception by Exile In Blonde, Divina Soma II by DVS and Fetische by S Jenx

Emotional Infarction by Paige Reynolds, Time Eats All by Christopher Ulrich, Innate Perception by Exile In Blonde, Divina Soma II by DVS and Fetische by S Jenx

What is enlightened darkness?

Buddhist monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “The buddha called suffering a holy truth because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation.” Our term “enlightened darkness” refers to the darkest of moments that we often discover or rediscover our greatest light. Light cannot exist without darkness, as darkness without light. In regards to our true inner self, they are two sides of the same coin to create a balanced whole. As artists, it is often these diversely shaded moments where we consciously or subconsciously wander and explore … to see where our creations take us. This art may be the one true reflection of self to express that beauty does lie within the repulsive, balance within imbalance or salvation within personal damnations. To continue Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote: “Embrace your suffering and let It reveal to you the way to peace.”

Last question. All three of these shows have been at Tangent Gallery/Hastings St. Ballroom, correct?

Yes, all three have been at Tangent/Hastings. They have been quite good to us and we love the separation the venue provides with the main white gallery room, the now harem-styled mezzanine overlooking the gallery floor and the lavishly decorated ballroom for the dinner and masquerade ball. But oh what we would do if granted use of one of the abandoned churches In Detroit (gallery/artist haven/etc) …

| RDW

DAMNED III  • 10/28-30 • Tangent Gallery/Hastings St. Ballroom • 715 E Milwaukee, Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 27 2009

DAMNED II

“It Was A Voluptuous Scene, That Masquerade.” – Poe

By Robert del Valle

Les Fleurs du Mal by Marilyn Manson

Les Fleurs du Mal by Marilyn Manson

Be advised — DAMNED is not your father’s Halloween show. It isn’t your mother’s Halloween show either. Actually, let’s get one thing clear before we go any further —DAMNED is not a Halloween event at all. This art show is tapping into something a great deal darker than a grinning pumpkin on the porch, and the fires kindled by these works may prove hotter than anything you’ve hitherto experienced on or around Devil’s Night.

Artists (the best of them anyway) understand that the muse is frequently a fallen angel —and that art itself is frequently the only means whereby a person may express honestly what is inexpressible in words. Furthermore, that castaway from heaven is not always preoccupied with sex or with the mundane parameters of ordinary lust. The musings run in other currents, as well — streams of the subconscious where possession, loss, beauty, ugliness, anger and fear rise In chorus like a siren’s irresistible call.

Untitled by Prozak and Tonic

Untitled by Prozak and Tonic

In other words, what Is being promoted and sought via this endeavor Is an enlightenment of the mind as well as a liberation of the senses. The image of the decadent (singular and plural) is not too far removed from the archetype of the mage or the hermetic figure who wrestles with a gnosis that neither creed nor fervent prayer can adequately address.

Suspected Lesbian by Colm McCarthy

Suspected Lesbian by Colm McCarthy

So if desire in all its manifestations Is something you would like to Investigate, October 29 and 30 should find you in the Tangent Gallery / Hastings Ballroom for an incomparable overview of the subjects just mentioned. 200 works by 140 local, national and international artists (Marilyn Manson, H.R. Giger, Josh Slavin, Joseph Ferraro, Mike Kelly, SLAW) will be complemented by the equally satisfying efforts of Miss Pussykatt and the carefully selected Devil Dolls, the uninhibited commedia of Satori Circus, aerial dreams by Detroit Fly House and music by Hayley Jane and violinist Dixon. That, we hasten to add, is only a modest taste of the menu.

And the menu planned for la noche del Diablo is especially tasty. A formal masquerade with an intimate six-course “aphrodisiac dinner” and libations aplenty. Throw in melodious cabaret songs by Jill Tracy and you have Prospero’s housewarming party without its melancholic conclusion at midnight. Civilized debauchery for the masses. Heaven (or some other zip code) knows we surely need more of that these days.

| RDW

DAMNED II • 10/29-30 • Tangent Gallery/Hastings Ballroom • 715 E Milwaukee St, Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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Real Detroit Weekly – Feature – October 21 2008

Damned On Devil’s Night

The Dark Art

By Travis R. Wright

Feature Cover - Silent Tongue by Guirnou

Feature Cover – Silent Tongue by Guirnou

Delving into the darker, deeper valleys of the psyche, bringing out those devious shadows by way of art, DAMNED is an artistic exhibition looking to light your internal fire, the one that burns on lust, desire and combustible sensuality. Devil’s Night will never be the same.

With contributing artists of the “fine” (and kinky) variety, this Devil’s Night deposition at the Hastings Street Ballroom combines several forms of visual art that all explore the nasty, the naughty and the devilishly disturbing.

Organized by one of our city’s premier fetish/dark art photographers, DVS, DAMNED is breaking barriers while rejoicing In human primal perversions and the delights found in the dark corners of our souls. RDW caught up with DVS for some further insight.

Rattenbild by H. R. Giger

Is DAMNED something new or is there a storied history to the event?

As for the history of DAMNED, this is our premier exhibition so, unfortunately, the show Itself has no actual history. However, the producers, who are also artists, do have a history within the fine art erotic genre (MidWest Society of Erotic Photography, Detroit Erotic Arts Collaborative, Dirty Show) as well as kindred dark artist collectives (Syndicati Obscura) and more intimate exhibitions.

So what was the catalyst responsible for making this happen?

Mother and Child by Dawn Cooke

The creation of DAMNED began with the creation of an artist collective focusing on fine art dwellings within the darker realms of consciousness…Syndicati Obscura, a dark arts collective; this invite-only collective features artists of a diversity of mediums that hold a deeper emotive and/or intellectual understanding and expressiveness towards the shadowed aspects of life and persona. The Syndicati’s plan was to gather every Friday the 13th and Devil’s Night for a group exhibition of our collective works.  But it grew into something quite bigger than that, with tons of talent stemming from across the country and even from Europe with the likes of the famed HR Giger (Alien artist). Within my search for unique artists to bring into the fold, I slowly began discovering numerous artists that held amazing works within darker genres. So the direction of holding an intimate Syndicati Obscura gallery on Devil’s Night began evolving towards a larger exhibition of personally invited artists to display their creations within an event that now features a live “refined freakshow” performance within an elegant ambiance of ethereal soundtracks and live strings. The concept was quickly well-embraced and began flourishing with a life of its own as word spread.

Baphomet by DVS

Baphomet by DVS

Refined freakshow?

It is the intermixing of the extreme arts with the traditional … the grotesquely repulsive with the sensually exotic: Flesh suspension with ballet, bloodplay with bellydance, fakir fireplay with something biologically anatomic in nature. All are performed as vignettes to a haunting solo violinist designed to enhance the ambiance of dark art and ethereal soundtracks.

So, why Devil’s Night?

DAMNED is not Halloween-themed art but an exhibition within the exploration of the shadowed realms of consciousness. The name was both a play on the whole Hell/Devil’s Night theme, but more to reflect the eternal condemnation of self, the emotional trappings of personal hauntings or the immeasurable tendrils that bind us to our deepest longings or depravations within our art. Beauty does reside within the repulsive, and enlightenment within our darkest hours.

| RDW

DAMNED • 10/30 • Tangent Gallery/Hastings Ballroom • 715 E Milwaukee St, Detroit • thatdamnedshow.com

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