Join Date: Mar 2006
SONIC YOUTH ETC. : SENSATIONAL FIX
The exhibition SONIC YOUTH ETC. : SENSATIONAL FIX focuses on the multidisciplinary activities of the groundbreaking experimental guitar band Sonic Youth since its formation in 1981. It features the band's collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, designers and musicians, as well as a choice of other works selected by the band. Through the multidisciplinary output of Sonic Youth and related works by other artists in the exhibition, an alternative history of contemporary culture is being uncovered in which the division between 'high art' and 'low art' is being called into question, while issues are explored such as teenage rebellion, adolescent wanderlust, gender, fame, fashion, sexuality, and religion. In the exhibition, those different themes related to the band are presented in several chapters based on Sonic Youth song titles, which form satellites around a central space that focuses on Sonic Youth paraphernalia.
CENTRAL SECTION The central section of the exhibition focuses on the band's activities and contains an ample selection of Sonic Youth paraphernalia that illustrates their comprehensive heterogeneous output and collaborations with other artists, while at the same time it already introduces themes that are explored in depth in further sections of the exhibition. Among the materials exhibited are: all artwork for Sonic Youth album covers, a selection of early flyers, fanzines, posters, t-shirts, and writings by the band members, as well as photos of the band by artists such as James Welling, Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, and Richard Kern, among others. A video compilation of live material of essential Sonic Youth performances of the last 25 years, selected by Thurston Moore, is projected in this space.
SATELLITE 1 By the early 1980s, an alternative scene emerged in downtown New York City in which music and visual art were tightly connected. Both the raw and rebellious attitude of punk and the atonal, violent guitar music with abstract lyrics of no-wave inspired artists like Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon to play in bands, while performances by these 'art-rock' bands were held in exhibition spaces and so-called 'art lofts'. Kim Gordon not only played in bands but also worked off and on for New York art galleries, as well as on her own curatorial projects, while also regularly contributing essays on art and music to magazines such as Artforum. The natural crossover between art and experimental music, as was apparent in those days, laid the foundations for the multidisciplinary activities of Sonic Youth. Since then, the band has been true to their attitude to amalgamate punk's rebellious posture with experimental music and conceptual art in their comprehensive output. Up until today this productivity - of which many in collaboration with other artists - remains unrivalled in its complexity by any other band or artists' collective. This section of the exhibition connects works by artists who were active in the late 1970s and early 1980s downtown New York art scene, and relevant to the early history of Sonic Youth, with works by subsequent generations of New York based artists whose work and/or collaborations with Sonic Youth fuelled the band's activities at later stages in their career. This section of the exhibition furthermore comprises works by young noise artists, selected by Thurston Moore. Artists in this section include: Dan Graham; Richard Prince; John Miller; Christian Marclay; Tony Oursler; Richard Kern; Patti Smith; Jutta Koether; Rita Ackermann; John Olsen; Dennis Tyfus; and others.
SATELLITE 2 Already in the early days of their existence, Sonic Youth would rent a van to hit the road and play gigs outside of New York City. The band was given such opportunity because a new generation of kids living in suburbia became aware of the latest music scene from New York City. The band's on the road experiences led among others to the writing and publishing of journals by the individual band members, and later to filmed material by Lee Ranaldo. The 'on the road' feel has been apparent in the band's output ever since they first hit the road together, both in their music and visual art projects. This section of the exhibition encompasses works dealing with suburbia, (teenage) wanderlust, and the vast landscapes of the Great West, while protagonists as diverse as beatniks, hitchhiking youngsters and cowboys impart these stories. This section of the exhibition is partly dedicated to a selection of lyrics, musical scores, diaries and writings by musicians. Furthermore, a vast selection of underground poetry, broadsheets and fanzines by artists from Thurston Moore's collection, and selected by him, is shown in this section as well. Artists in this section include: Jack Kerouac; William S. Burroughs; Allen Ginsberg; D.A. Levy; Vito Acconci; Robert Smithson; Thurston Moore; Lee Ranaldo; Tom Verlaine; Richard Hell; Mark Gonzales; John Cage; Steve Reich; Glenn Branca, and others.
SATELLITE 3 Kim Gordon was born in New York State but grew up and studied art in LA. When she, in the late 1970s, undertook a journey by car from the West Coast to the East Coast, Mike Kelley - who she had met during a Dan Graham lecture at Cal Arts - accompanied her on this cross state drive that brought her to New York City. Gordon settled there to work as an artist, but instead found herself playing in several bands before she, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo formed Sonic Youth in 1981. In the early 1980s, Moore's curiosity for LA hardcore and Gordon's background in the West Coast art scene led them back to LA, where they befriended artists and musicians such as Raymond Pettibon and Mike Watt. Soon after, Sonic Youth played their first West Coast gigs. For these artists, as for later generations of West Coast artists, late 1960s society - when the Hippie culture came up against the harsh and brutal reality of the culture of evil, which ended the Summer of Love in bloodshed with the Manson ordered murders - is an important point of departure for their artistic production. This section of the exhibition includes works that contrast Californian culture, like Hollywood's superficial glamour world, with violent radical subjects like the Manson Family, and subcultures such as the skate culture and the West Coast hardcore scene of the early 1980s. Among the protagonists of these works are icons as diverse as Charles Manson, Karen Carpenter and Joan Crawford. Artists in this section include: Mike Kelley; Mark Gonzales; Spike Jonze; Todd Haynes, Dave Markey; Raymond Pettibon; Cameron Jamie; and Kim Gordon, among others.
SATELLITE 4 While the band already played European gigs in their early days, the band's connections with artists worldwide have been apparent since they expanded the touring of lesser-visited locations on the globe from the late 1980s onwards - up until China, where they played for the first time in 2007. This section brings together works by artists that live and work outside of the US scene, such as Gerhard Richter; Tacita Dean; Yamataka Eye; Isa Genzken; Michael Morley; and others.
SATELITE 5 A choice of sound released by Sonic Youth and its members, as well as videos for these songs (whenever existing) and a selection of releases on the labels Smells Like Records (drummer Steve Shelley's label) and Ecstatic Peace! (guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore's label) are made available for the visitor's selection and listening/viewing in a pavilion especially designed for this purpose by Dan Graham. In this pavilion, the visitor could also consult a selection of digitised audiocassettes, recorded by Graham during live performances of late 1970s and early 1980s punk bands.
A number of monitors with headphones and a DVD video library, situated in a comfortable lounge-setting, offer the visitor access to a collection of films and videos selected by Sonic Youth, among which all videos shown on monitors or as projections in the exhibition. A choice of books and magazines with contributions by or on Sonic Youth and the artists participating in the exhibition, as well as a selection of fiction writing influential for the band could also be consulted in this space.
SATELLITE 6 Film and live music are essential components of both Sonic Youth's inspiration and output. This section of the exhibition encompasses a series of film screenings and performances to take place in parallel with the exhibition and in spaces best equipped for this type of work. The selection of films and performers (musicians, artists...) is done by Sonic Youth. The film program includes a wide range of cinematographic works by American avant-garde filmmakers, visual artists and punk filmmakers, while performances among others feature collaborations of Sonic Youth members with other musicians and artists. Artists in the film program include: Stan Brakhage; Jonas Mekas; Jack Goldstein; Jim O'Rourke; Gus Van Sant; Dave Markey; Leah Singer, and others.