Juxtapoz Magazine – Exploring Rammellzee’s Gothic Futurism

The immersive globe of the polyhedric graffiti writer, visual artist, musician, lyricist, performer, trend designer, innovator and philosopher Rammellzee lands in Los Angeles this November. The exhibition surveys his oeuvre from his graffiti beginnings on the A train in the mid-1970s to his great arts and functionality exercise designed above the adhering to 3 many years.

A correct iconoclast, Rammellzee committed to his contemplating and artwork-building with an tactic that was at the same time programmatic and shamanic. His esoteric manifestos encompassed philology and astrophysics and drew inspiration from contemporary sensibility and medieval historical past alike. A person of Rammellzee’s obsessions was a tale about medieval monks who designed lettering so ornate to be deemed unreadable by the greater ranks of the clergy and sooner or later bought banned. In his eyesight, this story was proof of the subversive, anti-institution prospective of lettering. It illuminated the route similarly undertaken by graffiti artists, who by rendering a name mysterious and unrecognizable, could liberate language from its intrinsic energy constructions. This was the beginning of Rammellzee’s philosophy, “Gothic Futurism,” and the artistic technique regarded as “Ikonoklast Panzerism.”

The weaponized letters of the alphabet had been, for Rammellzee, the inspiration for a fleet of spacecrafts for letter racing and galactic battles in a postapocalyptic sci-fi fantasy. Quintessentially Do-it-yourself and however futuristic, the sculptural sets of the Letter Racers are on see at the gallery. They exemplify a person of the elements at the main of Rammellzee’s system: enjoying with metaphysical principles in the bodily globe.

Element of a generation that grew up all through New York City’s notorious financial and infrastructure disaster, Rammellzee captured the decaying and lawless truth of the streets of Manhattan in thick levels of epoxy resin. Repurposed objects and trash became creative applications to assemble and generate not only his Letter Racers but also many produced sculptures, painterly assemblages and clothes for his performances. By the early 1990s, Rammellzee experienced originated an Olympus of characters and change egos designed genuine via costumes, paintings and created sculptures. He would embody the Rubbish Gods in their whole-physique suits of armor, some of which weighed extra than a hundred lbs .. The most paramount character, The Gasholeer, was even outfitted with a flamethrower.

Rammellzee was the embodiment of his artwork and theories. At periods contradictory and polarizing, he could enrage and amuse at the same time. The magnetism of his inscrutable theoretical monologues can be perceived to this date. The critic Carlo McCormick poignantly remarked in an Artforum evaluate from 1987: “Rammellzee’s artwork incorporates so substantially scientific, navy, and linguistic information and facts that it is really hard not to dismiss his complicated techno-poetry as self-indulgent babble. Conversely, nevertheless, Rammellzee’s innate feeling of lyricism offers his mannered, mathematical prose a excellent that attracts one particular in, and the seamlessness of his conceptual invention sales opportunities just one to wonder regardless of whether the indicating is in truth decipherable and no matter if maybe it is only our ignorance that tends to make it sound like gibberish.”

Rammellzee was born in Significantly Rockaway, Queens, in 1960 to mother and father of Italian and African American descent. In 1979, at nineteen, he legally transformed his name to the equation RAMM:ELL:ZEE. Due to the fact the 1980s, his operate has been exhibited in galleries and museums and supported by global collectors. As a musician, Rammellzee invented a nasal rap design identified as “gangsta duck,” influential to artists this sort of as the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill. He appeared in Charlie Ahearn’s iconic movie Wild Design (1982), and his 1983 music “Beat Bop”—produced and with a include layout by Jean-Michel Basquiat—was featured prominently in Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver’s documentary Type Wars (1983). In the early 2000s, Rammellzee’s Rubbish Gods and his fleets of Letter Racers settled in his TriBeCa loft, recognised as the “Battle Station,” which he barely left in direction of the finish of his daily life. Rammellzee died in 2010 at the age of forty-9. His delivery identify stays a mystery even to some of his closest close friends.

In 1979, Rammellzee satisfied the graffiti artist A-A person at an evening course at Match. A-One introduced him to the “Mitchell Crew,” the group of graffiti artists with whom he painted walls and trains. The crew was named following the housing project in the South Bronx in which the users lived at the time: A-One particular on the eighth ground, Kool Koor on the 2nd flooring, and Harmful across the street. The relationship with Rammellzee was rapid and these artists joined him to grow to be aspect of TMK (Tag Learn Killers), the graffiti crew he established. “TMK was about defending the letter,” claims artist Kool Koor. To come to be a member of TMK, artists experienced to verify their expertise by executing a letter of the alphabet centered on Rammellzee’s Ikonoklast Panzerism. Each and every artist responded to the process of arming the letter in their personal type: Toxic’s was a lot more summary, A-One’s figurative, and Kool Koor’s architectural. Gothic Futurism at Jeffrey Deitch capabilities a gallery curated by the artist Kool Koor documenting the work of TMK and the person universe of every single artist.

Jeffrey Deitch fulfilled Rammellzee in 1980 and managed a dialogue with him for lots of many years. He was with Rammellzee and Jean-Michel Basquiat in Los Angeles in 1983 when Basquiat painted his legendary operate Hollywood Africans that includes a self-portrait and portraits of the artist Poisonous and Rammellzee. Deitch and Rammellzee put in a number of decades planning a gallery exhibition, but the undertaking was in no way understood. After the artist’s loss of life, Deitch recreated the “Battle Station” in collaboration with the artist’s spouse Carmela in his 2011 Artwork in the Streets exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Artwork, Los Angeles. Gothic Futurism is Jeffrey Deitch’s 1st gallery exhibition in partnership with the Estate of Rammellzee. In loving memory of Carmela Zagari Rammellzee.