X-Ray Man on the NYC Ghosts and Flowers album (2000) | (D.F)
In Sonic Youth's work there is a drive, an obsessive pull towards music that is under strain. To some extent, this ‘accidental poetry’ resembles Jack Kerouac's literature, half way between hallucinogenic art and the world's reality. The breakaway followed by the ecstasy: Joyless street, the tramps pale dawn, the wrecks from the dregs of American society
(On the Road, 1957). The exhibition is an impulsive attempt to escape a county which came into being by conquering its neighbours and which is suffocated by its social and moral limitations.
As you follow the exhibition through its six satellites, each one bringing you back to a Sonic Youth song, you recall Allen Ginsberg's poetry, which comes across as a projection of Jerry Aronson's cinematographical portrait of him from 1994. Particularly his poem Howl
, a frenetic confrontation directed at a materialistic USA, a funeral oration to a nation that had betrayed his ideals. ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.’ An ‘angry fix’ that Sonic Youth want to glamorise.
Corrupting conformist society
The suggested artistic dialogues contour a map of the United States.
According to Corinne Diserens and Christophe Wavelet, ‘This is far from the made in the USA clichés. It is more of a free geography, with no established map but one that the exhibition defines in its own way, synonymous with freedom, sometimes deliberately moving away from any traced path exposing the face of a different America, an America that is able to communicate with art movements elsewhere in the world.’ A ‘jam session’, an enormous wacky collage, sometimes disconcerting, with lyrics that can leave you despairing, but that can contain a sometimes absurd or ridiculous insolence.
Everything - from Jeff Wall's photography to painter Richard Prince's Nurses
to Gus Van Sant's cinematographical poetry - reveals a United States full of paradoxes. A US that is both tragi-comical, phantasmal and sometimes repulsive, deviant and suspicious. Mike Kelly is a good example of an artist seeking to push the boundaries of crass, vulgar or disillusioned art; he uses regression or perversion to tarnish the American straight-thinking, conformist society. This exhibition is both a revolt and an unquenchable thirst for the drunkenness and passion so far from compromised and formatted thought.
Taking place at liFE in Saint-Nazaire (France) from 18 June to 7 September 2008. From 10 October 2008 to 4 January 2009 the exhibition will be held at the Museion de Bolzano (Italy) and will then travel to the Kunsthalle Museum in Dusseldorf (Germany) where it can be seen from 31 January to 26 April 2009. The Museum of Malmö (Sweden), United States and Mexico will follow