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Molon leads spectators to a display documenting Throbbing Gristle, a band he calls one of the most critical and influential marriages between art and music to evolve from England in the Seventies.
"They invented industrial music, and their transgressive performances and subversive and confrontational style still influence contemporary artists today," Molon says. He explains that the outfit's notorious reputation was enhanced by the fact that band member Cosey Fanni Tutti often appeared in porn, shocking the Brit upper crust. Unfortunately the band's postcards, 'zines, and album covers are sealed in vitrines, which give the items an air of precious objects.
Tucked around a corner, Robert Longo's iconic Men in the Cities drawings — depicting Gordon Gekko-esque drones contorted under Reagan-era power-hungry ambition — get retweaked as spastic symbols of New York's downtown scene of the Seventies and Eighties, in which the artist was active.
One of the show's strongest hooks is a cell phone audio tour boasting tunes related to works on display, such as the New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis," the Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?" and Sonic Youth's "Kill Yr. Idols." It even has an introduction by the curator himself.
The show also features Rirkrit Tiravanija's Untitled 1996 (Rehearsal Studio No. 6 Silent Version), which offers local musicians free recording time for the duration of the exhibit. Located at the entrance to the show, the Plexiglas cube includes a guitar, bass guitar, electronic drum kit, microphones, and recording equipment.
Visitors can listen through one of six pairs of headphones outside the space while musicians cut their demos inside.
They can find inspiration in artist Tony Oursler's amazing Sound Digressions in Seven Colors, a video installation featuring experimental rock performers jamming on separate screens and assailing the peepers.
With so much going on, it's impossible to absorb everything in only one visit. The good news is that this show is worth seeing again and again. Best of all, MoCA has slated a lineup of events to keep the exhibit fresh during the summer. While you're there, pick up the show's impressive catalogue, a treasure trove of information about the subject matter.
And kudos to Molon, who had no problem choosing Douglas Gordon's grainy, slow-mo bootleg videos of the Cramps, the Rolling Stones, and the Smiths, which reflect the jolting spectacle of the rock experience.
"If I had a really big place, Douglas Gordon's bootleg videos are what I'd have in my home," the curator says.
Despite the fact that some knuckleheads will bitch about holes in Molon's rock history, you can't leave without thinking you have to give this devil his due.