The audiovisual installations will be "spun from and centered around RVNG's Lower East Side nest."
The collaborations will see artists from different disciplines working on an installation that will be shown inside Commend. First up is For Haku, which comes from the pairing of ceramicist and illustrator Jessica Hans and musician Phoebe Guillemot, AKA RAMZi. As well as being presented as an installation, For Haku will also get a physical release through RVNG on vinyl and tape formats. (One of the album's tracks, "Anima," features a guest appearance from Mood Hut's Hashman Deejay.) The installation will start on Thursday, April 21st, at Commend HQ on the Lower East Side.
We caught up with Werth and Nina Bower Cooke, who together run the Commend See series, to find out more about the project.
What was the original motivation to open Commend?Watch a video for RAMZi's "OO" (with visuals by Hans) below.
Matt Werth: I'd been thinking about a permanent work space for RVNG, having been a clandestine operation since our start when the storefront at 172 Forsyth presented itself. I was also interested in establishing a safe space where people could come experience our music—and the culture surrounding our music—in new, inspiring ways. I also wanted to see how nutso it would be to support this kind of IRL space in today's URL social climate.
Tell us how this first Commend See project came together.
Nina Bower Cooke: Commend See developed from a desire to cement the relationships we saw forming naturally between creations inhabiting our space. When you have so many intimate, artistic objects rubbing up against one another, some magical friction is bound to happen. We endeavor to weave the thread of these creations—and their artists—into a relatable experience for anyone that walks through our doors. We seek to bring new forms into the Commend fold; to offer an experience that is unavailable elsewhere, but is approachable within our environment.
Werth: It's not a new concept that collaboration is our core to our label. We felt Commend speaking from its living, breathing walls, asking us in a real way to play. So, in some fantastical sense, Commend, the space, is the additional player in each collaborative cast. We are only doing the building's bidding.
How do you and Nina go about matching one artist with another—what kind of considerations are given?
Nina Bower Crooke: We encourage artists whose work we are humbled by to represent in a way that is responsive to Commend's system of display and communication, rather than a more general or impressionistic light. The collaboration between Jessica Hans and RAMZi began before we found the words to describe it. We were stocking vases and palo santo dishes made by Jessica in the early days of the store alongside Phoebe's Houti Kush cassettes.
Hans and Guillemot's ware felt like portals into a similar universe inhabited by perfectly mutant beings; the artists gatekeepers and guides of a dense, dripping forest teeming with alien life. In general, this kind of artistic duality is the most crucial consideration when pairing artists. We want to make these collaborations as cross-disciplinary as possible, but not to force that element or concept. The only other major consideration is: what does Commend say? How does the space add to and morph what the (other) participants grow together? And how can it keep this creation alive after the moment of collaboration has passed?
04. La Nuit Dans Mon Houdi
05. Anima feat. Hashman Deejay
07. A Jungle For Ramzi #5
08. Houti Béni
09. Etwal Timoun
RVNG will release For Haku on April 22nd, 2016.