Wales Bonner invited Laraaji . to set the stage in New York. playing his signature zither dressed in an orange Wales Bonner shirt atop the tie-dyed cloth that cloaked the shrine (which became decorated with pink and white flowers as people filed in). Wales Bonner explained that Laraaji had in part inspired her Spring 2019 menswear collection, Ecstatic Recital, some pieces of which were on sale at the church’s entrance. His soothing incantations served as a fine starting point for the entire evening. “I wanted to create this safe environment to experience sound healing,” said Wales Bonner.
, hoodie, sweater, longsleeve and ladies t-shirtThe church was indeed furnished to be as comfortable as possible: There were blankets stacked up to sit on, a tea station in the adjoining room, and incense burning throughout the space . Laraaji also helped to usher in these balmy vibes. When the sound cut out due to technical difficulties, he ceased the moment to guide the audience in an impromptu laughing-meditation session.Wales Bonner’s collections are nothing if not intertextual (they all even come with reading lists), and “Devotional Sound” was no different. A tribute to American artist Terry Adkins followed Laraaji’s performance, composed of readings from actress Zora Simpson Casebere, African-American literature professor Farah Griffin, and artist Demetrius Oliver. The surprise guest of the evening, Brian Jackson, then took the stage, paying tribute to his late writing partner by playing some of his favorite Gil Scott-Heron poems set to music.Dressed in a crisp, plunging oversize white suit with cowrie shells in her hair, Solange performed next, acting out her signature head-banging choreography to a selection of songs from her new album, When I Get Home. With “Rise,” her grand finale, she lifted the crowd up out of their seats, true to the song’s title, which only further solidified the holy setting. Last but not least, Standing on the Corner closed out the entire evening, performing a dizzying jazz set that combined scurrying synth sounds, bongo drums, and lulling chimes.“I see music as a part of my research process, so understanding moods and environments come from visual references, literary references, and also sound references,” said Wales Bonner. “It’s a very integrated part of my practice. I often have soundtracks for each collection and soundscapes that I listen to whilst developing them.” With “Devotional Sound,” Wales Bonner is serving an appetite for experiencing music in a way that resonates on a spiritual and transcendental level. “It’s a way to collaborate and extend the worlds that I’m creating and the environments and the people that I bring together through them.”
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