Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Art Preview in The Stool Pigeon - Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational Fix

Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational Fix
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and KIT (Germany) until 10 May 2009
Malmö Konsthal (Sweden) 29 May to 20 September 2009

Sonic Youth have never been just about the music. In a career that has spanned nearly three decades, their success is rooted in a ruthless artistic idiosyncrasy that includes poetry, design, art and, of course, music.

Initially, Sonic Youth’s reputation was conceived and established underground in a pre-internet era, through tours and the micro-distribution of independents. Most bands today wouldn’t stand a chance under like conditions. If in the eighties they lurched between genres, labels and line-ups, 1990’s //Goo//, their first on a major, and subsequent tour with Nirvana, raised the bar in terms of the band’s aspirations. It was at this point that Sonic Youth were almost alone in ushering in a new era of alternative rock, when the supremacy of American hip hop threatened to suffocate guitar-based noise entirely. Then in 1994 //Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star// became their highest charting US release.

Since, Sonic Youth have eschewed both limelight and categorisation through a process of constant sonic shapeshifting and artistic diversification that has continued to this day, a feat celebrated in //Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational Fix//. The exhibition features artwork by influential and directly connected New York artists including Dan Graham, Vito Acconci, and Tony Oursler, displayed alongside the creative work of their West coast contemporaries, from Mike Kelley to Todd Haynes. The Beat poets feature, as does seminal photography by James Welling, Sofia Coppola, and Richard Kern, among others.

Finally, in a pavilion especially designed for the exhibition by Dan Graham, Sonic Youthʼs complete audio output, including rare videos and live shows, are presented. The exhibition takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany, until May 10, before moving to Malmö, Sweden, where it stays until September.

Those unable to make the cross-continental trek can now purchase a condensed, published version, edited by Roland Groenenboom. which features interviews, catalogue texts and archival material for a bedroom fix of the Sonic Youth phenomenon.

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