Published by Exhibition A
The Lush Universe of Velvet Other World
As we approach the release of our first collaboration with the enigmatic artist duo Velvet Other World on December 28th, we delve into the creative universe that has given birth to Baby, These Are Diamonds Not Tears. This unique edition, a mirrored UV print with laser-engraved borders and Swarovski crystal embellishments, is a testament to Velvet Other World's (VOW's) distinct approach to art - blending the digital and tactile, the ethereal and the concrete. In this exclusive interview, Josh Allen and Katrina Pisetti of VOW open up about their inspirations, challenges, and the dynamic interplay of textures that define their work. Join us as we explore the rich tapestry of their artistic vision and the compelling narrative behind this mesmerizing edition.
XA: Your work focuses heavily on texture — conceptually, as it examines the possibilities of what it means to clothe and dress, and formally, through the meticulous nature of your charcoal drawings and sumptuous oil paintings. Velvet Other World's understanding of surface quality — and its distinct relation to what may or may not lie beneath — was recently demonstrated in Bimboteque, your two-part solo exhibition at Kapp Kapp, as well as in our new edition Baby, These Are Diamonds Not Tears (2023), which incorporates several elements that actualize VOW’s textural universe, as evidenced in the hand-applied Swarovski crystals among other incorporated materials. Witnessing texture requires the mind to be present enough to step out of our ongoing inner dialogues and simply observe. How does your fascination with texture manifest in your daily
VOW: We take a lot of inspiration from both natural and man-made materials. Digital avatars and editing filters have transformed the way we interact with ourselves and others, acting as an extension of our organic selves. The materials we are drawn to are so closely related to symbolic ideas of hyper-masculinity and femininity. Industrial materials like rubber, latex, and metal are traditionally associated with the masculine while natural materials like fur, silk, and diamonds are traditionally associated with the feminine. These taboo and evocative materials have a way of fusing with the body of the figures we portray, oftentimes simulating wetness or hardness. We are both glamorous and dramatic individuals and we imbue that into our figures. We surround ourselves in big fluffy blankets and pillows, massive laquered puffy jackets, and XL acrylic nails. (What can we say we're size queens.) Through our own indulgent passions, we find inspiration for the worlds we craft.
Detail from the original charcoal drawing created for the edition.
We are both glamorous and dramatic individuals and we imbue that into our figures. We surround ourselves in big fluffy blankets and pillows, massive laquered puffy jackets, and XL acrylic nails.
— Velvet Other World
XA: What elements do you believe are integral to a successful collaboration?
VOW: We met at the Rhode Island School of Design. We had an instant connection, being the two best draftsmen in our year. Like a twin flame, Lala and James from Vanderpump Rules connection. Our work in school explored similar themes, and as former misfits we both had a desire to create a protected world made up of lush beauty in our own respective ways. We totally bimbofied our world. We were obsessed with obsession, pretty things, hedonism, decadence, perversity, freedom, and love in contrast to how scary the world can be. We made a drawing together for the first time (just for fun) in 2021 based on conversations we were having about filters and editing online, and the rest is history. We are the same person in a lot of ways. We are even the same size, which is perfect because we can share clothes. We believe that the most integral elements to a successful collaboration are communication, planning, mutual respect, trust, curiosity, confidence, audacity, playfulness, magic, love, joy, vision, and intuition.
XA: Our collaboration Baby, These Are Diamonds Not Tears is based on an original drawing you created for the edition. Can you share some of what you were thinking and aiming to achieve with this edition?
VOW: Our one and only goal was to create something devastatingly over the top, glamorous, and dazzling. We both have printmaking backgrounds and both strongly feel that we owe so much to the practice and history of printmaking, so the opportunity to collaborate and create an edition with y’all is a dream come true. We were also thinking (as always) about continuing our exploration of costume. We view our costumes and tableaus as devotional. Costume is intended for specific uses, occasions, rituals, performances. It is a symbolic system linked to power, identity, and sexuality. It can give the wearer agency over their environment, act as an armor, allow them to command space, and ultimately transform themselves. It can be an exaggeration of something everyday. It has the ability to disguise, act as an extension of the body, or allow you to become more yourself than is possible with the body alone. It can be liberating. As our queen Vivienne Westwood once said, “Bondage clothes are restrictive but they give you a feeling of freedom.”
VOW's moodboard for the Exhibition A edition Baby, These Are Diamonds Not Tears
XA: What’s the most challenging aspect of collaborating with each other? What’s the most rewarding?
VOW: When we disagree about stuff. Being hangry or grumpy and then trying to make big decisions about work. The most rewarding thing about collaborating with each other is being able to create things that are more beautiful and true to our visions than what we could each make on our own.
VOW's Bimboteque exhibition at Kapp Kapp in 2023
XA: Your 2023 solo exhibitions Bimboteque Part I and Part II at Kapp Kapp were truly immersive, world building exhibitions. At this moment, does Velvet Other World have any dream projects you want to see realized? Or does the nature of your collaboration rely more on organic, intuitive evolution?
VOW: We want to make three-dimensional work (furry sculptures, bronze, inflatables), collaborate with a fashion designer or house, design costumes for a play. We see ourselves continuing to explore our Velvet Other World. We could create new fashions and looks for our girls forever. It’s like coming up with a new collection every season as a fashion house. Our primary goal is to study and document the alien systems and lifeforms that we have discovered on Velvet Other World. Our missions are designed to disseminate information about how these beings exist, dress, love, celebrate, and operate in an attempt to enlighten ourselves and our fellow Earthlings about life beyond.
Available for purchase beginning December 28th, 2023.
Register your interest for early access.