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Zradab: A Legend Unearthed by Delaney Martin and the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice 

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As invitations go, the one from the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice is more intriguing than most. These recently unearthed artifacts from the lost civilization of Zradab include "inventive mechanical wonders, a Victorian parlor transported from a faraway galaxy, invasive topiary species, mysterious fountains and glorified door knockers," a melange that sounds a lot like New Orleans — only more so. And any artist roster that includes Myrtle von Damitz III, Delaney Martin, Kim and Scott Pterodactyl and Taylor Shepherd clearly represents the more exotic fringe of the local art scene in an aggressively progressive way. The Pterodactyls and their extended clan are the creators of the exponentially expanding tree house at 1614 Esplanade Ave., one of New Orleans' newer wonders. Presumably the artists' contribution was to restore these long-lost antiquities, which all serendipitously bear a striking resemblance to the works for which the creators were already known. The show is dedicated to the late local sculptor Jeffrey Cook, "whose sacrifice was of the highest order." There is evidence the Zradab culture practiced human sacrifice and that artists were often victims, a prospect that can be disconcerting considering the speculation that Zradab's still-secret location may be in an uncharted portion of Orleans Parish gerrymandered to include Third World territories. The artifacts themselves include a pre-digital percussion synthesizer by Taylor Shepherd reminiscent of early mechanical player piano technology; a metal, fabric and green mold fountain by Delaney Martin; a partially mummified alligator lamp by Nina Nichols; a large, weirdly globular "key to everything" by Jennifer Odem and Christian Repaal; and an excavated Zradab portrait (pictured) by Caron Geary. Because many of these artifacts are best observed at night — their creators are apparently part of a nocturnal and highly musical culture — a free public performance of recreated Zradabian entertainments scheduled for 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, at Barrister's may offer an optimal viewing opportunity. — D. Eric Bookhardt

Zradab: A Legend Unearthed: Mixed-Media Installations by Delaney Martin and the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice

Through Jan. 3

Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave., 710-4506; www.barristersgallery.com

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