The artist Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe gave instructions to my assistant to head deep into Flatbush. They wanted a cake made from Brooklyn’s famous Lord’s Bakery. They wanted Ike and Tina Turner’s Outta Season 1968 album cover recreated into a foot-long dessert. It was a sugar mission, cryptic enough to feel steeped in meth-head mentality. But it was all part of the master plan – to turn the artists’ somewhat pharmacopeia inspired installations into a set for a POP fashion story, celebrating New York’s SS 13 season.
When I first met J&J at the Marlborough gallery up on 25th it was China Chow who banded us all together. She was wearing all cashmere that day, had long hair that flanked down her back and was insistent about it all being about the ‘collaboration’. We nodded: POP, Francesco, J&J and I. It was to be an Alice in Wonderland excursion of sorts that spilled around their exploding exhibition, Stray Light Grey.
The duo who first gained notoriety in 2008 with Hello Meth Lab, created in Stray Light
Grey a haphazard fantasy land that acclimatised its participants into an almost collaged state of mind. Originally inspired by everything from William Gibson’s sci-fi extravaganza Neuromancer to the obtuse retailers hocking who-knows-what on Grand Street, BK, for J&J it is always about hybridisation. From the eloquent wooden library that housed books with titles such as Pre-Teen Huff Job and Tanning Nude Dude, to the Hong Kong inspired side street muck. It was electrical pirate cubbyholes; it was ghetto paraphernalia. It was genius.
I’ve heard the exhibition itself was later swallowed whole by Hurricane Sandy, along with much of Chelsea’s art district, but what remains in these pages is something that hopefully replicates some of the sentiment Jonah and Justin intended.