Ela Minus Creates Community With 'acts of rebellion' Art Camp

Throughout the pandemic, what Ela Minus missed most—what most of us missed most—was simply interacting with other people. After creating and releasing an album—the brilliant acts of rebellion in October of 2020—during a continued state of lockdown, she craved a communal experience outside of the traditional live show. Sure, Minus had been doing that too since the world started opening up again (see her tremendous set at the Pitchfork Music Festival this past September), but for her First on SoundCloud marquee project, she wanted to incorporate many of the visual elements that were so crucial to establishing the aesthetics of the album. Cue: Ela Minus’ Art Camp.

Fans of Minus’ brilliant, alien interpretation of house, dance, and electro music were thrilled to interact with the black and white imagery neon pink accents and utilized by Minus and her collaborators, DR.ME, but the event was catered to any and everyone who found joy in DIY activities and doing things the old-fashioned way: with your hands. “I want people to feel joy when they enter the exhibit,” Minus explained. “Hopefully they make new friends and have something creative to show from the day. It’s just so fun to make stuff with your hands, too,” she added with a chuckle.

Her creative partner, Ryan Doyle of the British design team DR.ME, concurred, saying, “I hope people discover the joy of making things by hand, and taking time away from screens. I want there to be a sense of community, having a chance to come together for something other than a live show.”

To create that sense of communal connection, Minus and DR.ME teamed up with the Secret Riso Club who's members walked guests through the different creative processes. Together, they led Minus fans and craft aficionados across a number of exhibits during which they could create a number of acts of rebellion-inspired items. One of the standout aspects of the event was the use of the Risograph machine, that allowed fans to create collages in color. It’s like a Xerox machine, but uses analog technology to add color to the designs, giving the pieces a vintage look deeply aligned with Minus’ vision.

For Ela, there is a always a visual component to the music that she makes. Between the album cover, music videos, and promotional materials that were created in collaboration with DR.ME, there is a brilliantly conceived and wholly original style that works its way throughout. Ela knew she wanted to recruit DR.ME for this mission from the start. “When I started working on visual aspects for acts of rebellion, it wasn’t that I was looking to collaborate with any artist. I had a very specific desire to work with DR.ME,” says Minus. “I was a fan of theirs and the work they had done. As soon as I had the album, I was like, ‘This is who I want to work with.’”“The main visual inspiration for the project was Ela herself,” Ryan of DR.ME explained. “We met right at the beginning of the process to discuss ideas and directions. Ela told me that she had this obsession with pink tape,” he explains. “She had it all over her machines and on her jacket, too. At that first meeting I didn’t have a complete idea, but we had these black and white photos and ran that through an analog processor to create a textured, DIY aesthetic. We quickly found the style.”

At the event, fans were able to replicate this vision as well across a number of stations. Aside from the Risograph station where fans created their collages, there was also a screen printing workshop where fans made their own acts of rebellion merch. They were also encouraged to bring their own t-shirts or sweatshirts to print on. Lastly, there was a zine making station where people produced their own zines, their own little bundle of acts of rebellion goodness. The collages made at the Risograph station were used to populate the zines, and it allowed attendees to come up with completely fresh ideas using the same materials.

For Minus, the event with DR.ME was that perfect way to be with fans and immerse them in acts of rebellion, beyond the usual auditory experience. “Since I’ve been a kid, my relationship to music has always been a show, a live interaction with other people. I was really missing that other level of interaction with other human beings—conversation, co-creation,” she explains. “As soon as we got a chance to do physical things again, I just wanted to do community-oriented events. Everyone is taking care of themselves and their families. Our worlds shrank a little bit. I wanted to open it up again and think about others. I wanted to connect.”

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