• Date: September 15, 2013 - February 02, 2014
  • Location: The Jewish Museum, NYC
  • Partner: The Jewish Museum
  • Artists: threeASFOUR

Press Release

SEPTEMBER 15, 2013


New York, NY - Beginning September 15, 2013, the adventurous fashion collective threeASFOUR will present its latest project, MER KA BA, a multimedia installation fusing avant-garde couture, architecture, and video projections, at The Jewish Museum. Blending ancient symbols with new technologies to evoke a timeless desire for cross-cultural unity, the exhibition includes examples from threeASFOUR's new spring-summer 2014 collection, featuring 3D-printed textiles made in collaboration with the architect Bradley Rothenberg. The clothing line and its environment are inspired by sacred geometry and tile patterns found in synagogues, churches, and mosques around the world. The exhibition will remain on view through February 2, 2014. threeASFOUR: MER KA BA is presented by The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund.

Immersing visitors in an ethereal and meditative environment, the installation features a "temple" in the shape of half a three-dimensional six-pointed star designed in collaboration with Studio Christian Wassmann. A patterned floor of mirrors creates the illusion of a complete six-pointed star, while selections from threeASFOUR's newest collection are positioned throughout the gallery. Visitors are invited to enter the mirror-lined interior of the "temple" structure. Video projections of the five Platonic solids, created with the 3D animation designer Alex Czetwertynski, and specially commissioned sound by composer Raz Mesinai further enliven the space.

Gabriel Asfour, Adi Gil, and Angela Donhauser, the designers of threeASFOUR, were born in Lebanon, Israel, and Tajikistan, respectively, and their diverse backgrounds have influenced their poetic and socially-conscious approach to fashion. For them, haute couture is about more than beautiful clothes; it is both wearable art and a platform for their free-spirited philosophy. Paper Magazine has called threeASFOUR "true artists [who] insist on following their vision rather than the trend of the moment" while Vogue praised them as "avant-garde designers who will try anything, who will cause a person to reimagine, for instance, what a dress is."

The enigmatic title embraces many spiritual concepts: Merkaba is a mystical form of Judaism; ka ba alludes to the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam and the focal point of the Mecca pilgrimage; Muraqaba is a Sufi meditation practice. But the phrase has even older roots. In ancient Egypt the hieroglyphs mer (rotating light), ka (spirit), and ba (body), placed together, describe the energy field through which the soul enters the body and ascends to higher planes. In contemporary New Age belief merkaba is a vehicle of transcendence; this idea is represented as two pyramids, interlaced to form a three-dimensional six-pointed star. In the gallery merkaba is ever-present, from the custom fabric prints and the shape of the "temple" to the glowing animations that light the room. The exhibition space will transform into a sanctuary, inviting contemplation.

In sacred geometry, symbolic and sacred meanings are ascribed to certain geometric shapes and proportions. In classical geometry, the five Platonic solids are three-dimensional shapes with the same face on all sides. These include: pyramid (four triangle faces), cube (six square faces), octahedron (eight triangle faces), dodecahedron (twelve pentagon faces), and icosahedron (twenty triangle faces).

Gabriel Asfour (b. Beirut, 1966), Angela Donhauser (b. Dushanbe, 1971), and Adi Gil (b. Tel Aviv, 1974), first worked together under the clothing label AsFOUR in 1998. Since 2005 the trio has been known as threeASFOUR. Their experimental designs have been exhibited at the Musée Galliera - Musée de la Ville, Paris (2002), Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (2003), the Museum at FIT (2005), and the Mode BiŃ‘nnale Arnheim (2007, 2011). Their clothing designs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2007 threeASFOUR collaborated with artist Matthew Barney on the performance piece The Guardian of the Veil, staged at the Manchester Opera House. The designers also worked with artist Matthew Ritchie on the live performance of Hypermusic: Ascension at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2010. They have collaborated on ready-to-wear collections with Kate Spade (2005), and Gap (2007). Among the label's supporters are Björk and Yoko Ono.

threeASFOUR: MER KA BA is coordinated by Rebecca Shaykin, Leon Levy Assistant Curator.

Related Program
On November 10 at 6pm, The Jewish Museum will present an interactive performance combining avant-garde fashion and ancient bread-breaking rituals, conceived by threeASFOUR in relation to the exhibition threeASFOUR: MER KA BA. Part of Performa 13, the only biennial dedicated to new visual art performance across disciplines, Fest is designed in collaboration with culinary curator Naama Shefi, Studio Christian Wassmann, Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, Bradley Rothenberg, and Breads Bakery.

The exhibition is made possible by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Charitable Trust. Generous support is provided by Yoko Ono, the Leon Levy Foundation, Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, and Dr. and Mrs. Steven Rothenberg. In-kind support is provided by Materialise and Bruce Gitlin and Milgo/Bufkin.

About The Jewish Museum
Widely admired for its exhibitions and collections that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is one of the world's preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary. Located at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, The Jewish Museum organizes a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed and award-winning temporary exhibitions as well as dynamic and engaging programs for families, adults, and school groups. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of 25,000 objects - paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ritual objects, and broadcast media.

The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. As of September 15, Jewish Museum admission is $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for visitors 18 and under and Jewish Museum members. Admission is Pay What You Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on The Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at

About Art Production Fund
Art Production Fund is dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. - See more at: