Elisabeth Belomlinsky is not just another Russian-born sculptor/painter/art restorer/jewelry creator/costume maker. (She was also once a telephone psychic, but that’s another story.) The daughter of an artist who illustrated over 300 children’s books in his native Russia, Belomlinsky emigrated with her family to the US at age 11 and has lived a life that is full of art, from designing gear for the army’s special forces to creating looks for numerous music videos and painting her own versions of religious icons.
Belomlinsky is an artist who thrives on collaboration, which makes her a perfect partner for Laura Newman and the Abracadabra Trip, a band whose primary venue has been a blue bus that roams the streets of downtown Manhattan and various points in Brooklyn, offering free concerts and inspiration to passersby and loyal fans. Though the collective is made up of men and women, Newman notes that “women collaborating together is a beautiful act of feminism” and that her collaboration with Elisabeth has been “thrilling.”
The pair have worked together before, with the artist providing costumes and headdresses for bus trips in the past. This time was special, though, as Newman’s outfit came about in a perfect example of synchronicity.
“I sometimes have visions during meditation before a show,” Newman relates. “I saw a woman in golden ropes tied to a stake and I immediately called Elisabeth, who had just drawn a very similar image.”
“I had a waking vision of the woman in bondage after a conversation with a lady feminist whom I had met the same time as Laura,” says Belomlinsky. The artist and performer then created the simple but powerful costume, which was designed for the top to be ripped off dramatically during the band’s performance of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’, as the “woman takes charge of her bondage,” according to Newman.
“It’s about the trapped and bound archetype meeting radical feminist freedom,” explains Newman. Belomlinsky is right there with her, explaining that the masks have been made from household domestic objects, such as placemats and doilies, taking symbols of domesticity and turning them into objects of female empowerment.
“Laura’s headdress is a folded placemat!” laughs Belomlinsky. “I love making crowns for feminist queens.” Some of the other masks worn on Saturday’s trip through Brooklyn were inspired by one of her favorite books, ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ The White Rabbit, the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter are all represented. “Alice is a fundamental, formative book,” states Belomlinsky. “It’s as relevant as the Bible.”
She goes on to explain that Carroll’s book is based on the myth of ‘Inanna’s Descent Into the Underworld’, which she calls “the ultimate female deity tale.”
Given the freedom to choose their own costumes, one of the models/dancers – actress Daisy Thomas – chose the White Rabbit mask for the day. ” I’m not really a rabbit person, I’m more of a cat person,” explained Thomas. “But the ornate structure of it immediately struck me and the way that I felt when I put it on was absolutely surreal.” Continuing, she said that her ” character – a playful, flirty rabbit-like goddess – came alive. Seeing the pedestrians below dance and laugh made me feel like I was in tune with the human condition! “
Having the models pick their look from the many options is a key to Elisabeth’s aesthetic. “Fashion tells the models what to wear, but for me, it’s a collaboration with the model. All of my models, who are dancers, writers, actresses, musicians, artists, are incredible people. I believe that while the physical labor is usually done exclusively by me, the creative work is always a collective effort, in contrast to the patriarchal model which praises the lone “genius” above all. Deep and intimate conversations with other female artists is what inspires me. “
Newman is effusive and thankful when discussing Belomlinsky’s contribution to the Abracadabra Trip. She appreciates the gift of receiving the artist’s work for free ( “it would have cost a fortune to pay her”) and hopes that the exposure that she gets will pay off. “As much as we’re a rock band, we are also theatre,” explains Newman. ” She matches the boldness of what we are doing. Her style fits in nicely with ours because she has that ‘wow’ factor. It includes a fantastical drag/queer/burning man aesthetic that inspires people. Her outfits elevate the spectacle.”
“My overall theme here is happiness,” concludes Belomlinsky. “Sometimes I go with creepy imagery, but not this time. I went for an emotional beauty to uplift the spirit.”
Elisabeth Belomlinsky’s website is writtenimage.art and you can follow her on Instagram @writtenimage
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.