VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
PORTRAITS. Over the years Käla Mandrake continued to document those who seemed to push the boundaries in society. She found them among the squatters and punks of the Lower East Side's artist collaboratives, such as ABC NoRio, Collective Unconscious, Gas Station, makeshift art galleries, at illegal underground dance parties and after hours hangouts. Talents from the Coney Island Side Show, patrons, performers and go-go dancers from the legendary Don Hill's and Meow Mix - the only East Village lesbian bar at the time. Many became her friends. Finally a few select photographs and stories were published in her book, UNDERGROUND in 2010.
BURLESQUE. Among the many talented people Käla photographed was performance artist and singer, Melody Sweets. She documented her career as a burgeoning burlesque dancer, and photographing her life from New York City to Las Vegas, she was introduced into the not-yet-mainstream world of the "new" burlesque (with Speakeasy host Nik Sin, Cabaret star Bianca Leigh, and performers Peekaboo Pointe, MsTickle, The Maine Attraction, Stormy Leather, and others at The Box).
MUSIC. After a year as electric keyboardist in a glam rock band as a teenager, playing all the great venues of Manhattan's East Village at the time (CGBG, Continental, Coney Island High, Brownies, Knitting Factory, The Pyramid, Spiral, No Tell Motel, The Bank, and many more) Käla befriended many other local New York bands and shot their live shows and backstage action at places like Babydoll Lounge, The Library, Meow Mix and more). Her portfolio of musicians include mostly women in rock'n'roll, such as Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Lunachicks, LP, Spitfire America, Special Head, Wilma, Firegods, Sexpod, Lourds, The New Professionals, and more. She has often combined music with her images in creating various music videos and behind-the-scenes films.
EXHIBITIONS. Käla's first photography exhibition was literally on the streets of New York. She went out late at night and wheat-pasted 13 x 19" printed photographs on billboard scaffoldings and the sides of buildings (not legal). Photographing at fifteen years old, documenting and befriending punk bands, squatters and runaways of the Lower East Side and Alphabet City gave her the motivation to make a career in pictures. Her work has been seen in various publications, galleries, venues and art festivals in New York. Staying true to her vision of the "underground," Käla has most often sought out places that are artist owned and operated, or are simply part of the New York underground scene. Her first exhibition in 2000 was at CB's Gallery (the gallery/live music space of the legendary CBGB club). Other galleries include the Silver Whale, Rivington, MaxFish, BAG, aRAMONA, Mother Jaguar and many others.
ART One Space
Silver Whale Gallery, NYC
Silver Whale Gallery
MaxFish "New York By Night"
Curated by Eric Bryant
"Keep your ear to the underground"