QUEER TRASH PRESENTS: BLACK LEATHER JESUS, (A)SEX, MAD RECITAL, RACHIKA S
For their second program as 2018 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow, Queer Trash is elated to present Black Leather Jesus, (A)sex, Mad Recital, and Rachika S. Queer Trash turns to refuse in both senses of the word: refuse of discarded detritus, and refuse as in “no fucking way.”
Promising a rousing evening of cuts and stitches, collage of space and sound and body, Queer Trash has assembled an evening that plunges deep into the marginal excesses of dominant values.
Black Leather Jesus (BLJ) have been Queer Trash’s “noise daddies” since before they can remember. Founded in 1989 by Richard Ramirez, for Queer Trash, BLJ will consist of Ramirez and his husband Sean E. Matzus. Harsh and minimal, BLJ performances are anti-music rituals of entropy and sonic decay, informed by both religion and sadomasochistic gay male sexuality. Innovators of Harsh Noise Wall, BLJ envelops the listener and environment in a thick sonic palette that, like in sadomasochism itself, is as deeply vulnerable as it is emotionally overwhelming.
Mad Recital is an experimental fashion line that employs repurposed garments and unconventional structures by Sean E. Matzus and Richard Ramirez (who also produces fashion as Richard Saenz). This is a rare convergence of the artists’ fashion work and sonic output in the same evening, underscoring their cross-disciplinary commitment to complicating the value of what is otherwise considered junk.
Currently based in Denton, Texas, Mitchell Rotunno formed (A)sex in 2014 as a cathartic project in relation to a lasting ordeal of anorexia and resulting sexual ramifications. The abrasive and fluid sound is purgative of the shame, guilt, and warped perspective caused by the disorder. The pain of candor in self exposure is transformed into a therapeutic experience.
Rachika S weaves multi-instrumental samples and synthesized sounds with collaged found and personal video, set in a light and scrim installation. Based in Brooklyn, her work draws on intergenerational memory and meanders purposefully through appropriated visual and audio landscapes from immaterial pasts to the immediate present.
Together, this work presents an array of relationships of queer body and mind. This is creative deconstruction and recontextualization of opposing forces, cut-ups and inversions of hierarchies of worth. To quote a former design slogan of Richard Ramirez, “If I wanted the world to love me, I wouldn’t have worn this.”
Black Leather Jesus is the harsh noise unit formed in 1989 by Richard Ramirez. Originally based in Texas, BLJ is currently in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The group has had over thirty members. BLJ’s imagery primarily has been gay leather erotica and pornography. Images that has caused criticism and hate at times. The group is mainly fronted by married couple Richard Ramirez and Sean E. Matzus. Their sound is mainly “junk” noises with heavy feedback. Very minimal set up (no vocals). BLJ has also worked with such artists Smell & Quim, MSBR, Smegma, Kadaver, Nihilist Assault Group, Merzbow, Le Cose Bianche, and Andrew Liles. Black Leather Jesus was invited by Sonic Youth to open for them in 2007 in Marfa, TX (sponsored by Chinati/Donald Judd Foundation). Black Leather Jesus has toured the U.S. from coast to coast as well as Europe.
Mad Recital is an avant-garde fashion label established in 2010. Current designers of the label are Sean E. Matzus and Richard Ramirez (Richard Saenz). Mad Recital focuses on deconstruction, re-purposed garments, handmade techniques, alternative visions of beauty and unconventional designs. The designers are influenced by designers like Martin Margiela, Rei Kawakubo, Ann Demeulemeester, Susan Cianciolo, Junya Watanabe, and Yohji Yamamoto. Drawing inspiration from nature, folklore, myths and legends, film and the arts. Mad Recital aims to create wearable art. The end goal is pieces that delight, unsettle, inspire and provoke. The label produces clothing, accessories and hand-printed t-shirts along with a diverse selection of media including zines and video. The duo has also created an online site called Either Territory that also features their other fashion labels (Automatism, Richard Saenz, and Dismembered Quietly).
Sean E. Matzus began working in the Houston, TX experimental music scene in 2001, as a member of the improvised electronics group In the Land of Archers. He soon gravitated towards the harsh-noise faction of the scene and began his long-term collaboration with Richard Ramirez—later to become his partner and husband—as a member of numerous projects including [untitled], Nuits Rouges and Black Leather Jesus. Sean creates with a combination of field recordings, synthesizers, electronics and contact mic manipulation. His solo work ranges from harsh noise walls (HNW) in projects Thewhitehorse and The Shudder of Anguish, extreme minimalist wall noise as theNIGHTproduct to the sound-collage based experimental project A Week of Kindness and the traditional harsh noise of Red Hook. He also produces work as founder and curator and frequent artist of ongoing Queer Agitprop project Pink Triangle Series. Major influences include Chop Shop, The Haters, Etant Donnes, John Duncan and M.B. Just as important has been the “non-musical” influence of creative film sound-design, from the nightmare soundscapes of horror films to the more sculptural sound-worlds of Tarkovsky and the chaos of noise and buried dialogue in the work of Godard. Sean lives in Southwestern Pennsylvania with his husband.
Richard Ramirez began his work in 1989 in Houston, TX with the harsh noise project Black Leather Jesus and Flesh Puppets. He began recording under his own name in 1992. The same year he began his label, Deadline Recordings (which continues today). Ramirez work was influenced by artists like The Haters, Kapotte Muziek, The New Blockaders, Merzbow, Hijokaidan, and Nurse with Wound. Openly gay, Ramirez took a lot of “heat” from the noise scene especially in his early years. He used gay erotica and extreme leather scene images in his work. At times still gets criticism and hate mail over his sexuality and art. Ramirez has toured/performed in the U.S., Canada, Japan, UK, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. He has collaborated with many experimental artists including Merzbow, G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, Thurston Moore, CON-DOM, Skullflower, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, PBK, The Rita, Prurient, MSBR, Smell & Quim, Vomir. Ramirez has many side/collaborative projects including Werewolf Jerusalem, Nuits Rouges, An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter, Fouke, & Martyr of Sores. Currently his project Nuits Rouges is working on a collaboration release with Edward Ka-Spel (The Legendary Pink Dots) to be released on Matzus-Ramirez’s label, Next Halloween Records. Ramirez resides in Southwestern Pennsylvania with his husband/collaborator.
Mitchell Rotunno’s relationship with noise and experimental music began in 2006 with a hasty release of raw sound cultivated from as little instrumentation as possible on his own imprint Untitled Productions. In 2013 a series of personal life events changed the trajectory of his process towards a more pointed, emotionally charged sound-as-catharsis. Currently, he has four main projects: (A)sex, Michelle, The Ebony Tower, and Urban Decay; each explore a specific theme or state of mind through sound. With The Ebony Tower, a literary obsession was channeled into Harsh Noise Wall, or HNW. With (A)sex, there is a strong cut-up influence meant to deal with trauma and explore the relationship of pain and pleasure. Michelle is an attempt at purity in sound utilising the mixer as the primary instrument, with an emphasis on free improvisation; it is the project with which he has collaborated most with other experimental artists. Urban Decay is a combination of techniques used in NIMB (no-input mixing board) with HNW. The proliferation of projects serves to combat stagnancy and complacency in the artist’s personal life.
Rachika S is a Brooklyn-based ambient-electronic producer and multi- instrumentalist whose work touches upon electro-acoustic methods, installation, and video. She magnifies latent sonic and harmonic qualities of her instrumental work using electronic processing techniques like granular synthesis, while pushing and resampling those digital apparatuses to the point of revealing their artifacts—situating her work within the transitional space between physical acoustics and digital audio, the real and the virtual. She also drums for several local bands, including queercore quartet MALLRAT, and writes for national music magazines including Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Time Out NY. She has spoken on panels and presented music at universities such as Hampshire College, Cornell University, and Wesleyan University, and her work in her various projects has been featured in publications including Tiny Mixtapes, Mask Magazine, Afropunk, New Noise Magazine and more.
Queer Trash was founded by Michael Foster and Richard Kamerman in spring 2016. Active participants in experimental music scenes in New York City, Foster and Kamerman created Queer Trash in response to a lack of a dedicated queer platform within their communities. Queer Trash has hosted eight events at seven different locations throughout New York City, presenting both local and touring artists from as far as Mexico and Sweden working across experimental aesthetics and practices. A participant in the fifth Queer Trash, Eames Armstrong joined Queer Trash in July 2017 as the third curator of the series after six years of organizing visual and performance art in Washington, D.C.