June 17 – December 10, 2023

Taylor Mac’s

24-Decade History of Popular Music

24 photos of costumes worn during a 24-hour performance of 24-Decade History of Popular Music featuring looks with names like ‘Songs Popular During the American Revolution’ and ‘Songs Popular With Radical Lesbians’.

Machine Dazzle

Taylor Mac. Photo courtesy of Sara Krulwich/The New York Times


Machine Dazzle created the costumes for Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music – a singular 24-part performance art concert series that narrates a subjective (and queer) history of America from its founding in 1776 to the present day, explored through popular songs from each era. In addition to creating 24 costumes, one for each decade, Machine created costumes for audience members and himself, as Machine would dress Mac on stage. The project culminated in a one-time 24-hour marathon performance for a sold-out audience in Brooklyn, NY, October 8, 2016, including over 200 performers, a 24-piece orchestra, an ensemble of “dandy minions” and countless special guests). The project continued to tour nationally and internationally over the course of eight years.

In his designs, Machine looked at each historical decade’s style and histories. His layered incorporation of forms and materials in these costumes extended and amplified Mac’s queer re-telling of American history, as the costumes often reference political and social histories, inventions and other notable events of each era. For example, the costume worn during the WWII decade is made of an army duffle bag. It is completed by airplane propellers and a slinky headdress, highlighting the technologies of warfare that contributed to the rise of postwar consumer culture. Other decades incorporated references to popular American foods, toys, artists and cultural figures, expanding and moving the narrative. For these designs, Machine was the co-recipient of the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design, and was awarded a Henry Hewes Design Award by The American Theatre Wing.

The original stage production was adapted into an HBO Original Documentary Film directed by Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein and co-produced by Pomegranate Arts. Exhibited for the first time, here are photographs of Taylor Mac wearing an iteration of each of the 24 costumes created by Machine Dazzle. Photographed by New York- based photographer Gregory Kramer, a behind-the-scenes look at this portrait session is featured in the film, Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music premiering on Crave on June 27.

Gregory Kramer is a photographer acclaimed for his evocative portraits of New York artists and personalities. His notable 2017 book, DRAGS, explored a diverse cross- section of drag artists, featuring iconic and emerging talents. In 2020, his publication DOWNTOWN documented contemporary performers, reflecting the vibrant spirit of the downtown scene. Kramer has worked extensively with Machine Dazzle to photograph the artist’s maximalist costumes.


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