Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle

Through Feb 19, 2023

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle is the first solo exhibition dedicated to the genre-defying artist Matthew Flower (US, b. 1972), better known as Machine Dazzle. A provocateur commanding an expanding repertoire of stagecraft, design, performance, and music, Machine Dazzle is a virtuoso practitioner of queer maximalism’s aesthetic language of liberation.

The exhibition brings together nearly 100 of the artist’s creations for stage, spectacles, and street theater, alongside a variety of environments, ephemera, material samples, photography, and video. Together they chronicle the metamorphosis of Flower, a closeted suburban kid from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, into “Machine Dazzle,” the queer experimental theater genius.

On view will be both Machine Dazzle’s famous collaborations with drag and performance luminaries such as the Dazzle Dancers and Mx Justin Vivian Bond, among others, as well as the artist’s recent emergence from behind the scenes to center stage of his own artistic life. Installed on two floors of the Museum, the multimedia exhibition also includes the first public installation of more than two dozen tour-de-force costumes created by the artist for himself and his long-time collaborator, Taylor Mac, to wear in the queer performance art concert production, Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (2016), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Excessive in scale, color, surface, texture, and movement, Machine Dazzle’s living sculptures constantly transform as the designer combines the familiar embellishments of drag and burlesque, such as sequins, glitter, and feathers, beads, with found fantastical and found objects, such as ping pong balls, hoop skirts, slinkies, soup cans, and more, to build and deepen the work’s narrative intent. The result is an explosive “queer maximalism” aesthetic that joyfully counters the prejudices of high culture regarding extravagance and the overly decorated and embraces these associations as queer for affirming hybridity over purity, rejecting cultural hierarchies, and valuing different kinds of bodies.

Please be aware that some of the works on view contain adult sexual content.  

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle is generously supported by Leslie and Dale Chihuly.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov

Image: Costumes created by Machine Dazzle for Taylor Mac’s performance art concert production, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (2016–present). Photographed by Jenna Bascom

Machine Dazzle is your personal guide on the MAD Mobile Guide, available exclusively on the Bloomberg Connects app.

Signed by the artist, the hardcover, 160-page catalog contains lavish photographs, scholarly essays, and intimate reminiscences from fellow artists, historians, and cultural critics.

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