Windy City curator Dominic Molon’s “Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967” swaggered into Miami last night to a raucous MoCA crowd. The show explores the nexus of visual avant-garde art and unruly rock, through album cover design, collage, photography, video, even vinyl itself.
Molon led a tour shortly before the 7 p.m. opening, during which he admitted that the decidedly un-avant Styx was his “favorite band in the eighth grade.” He explained the works while at times competing with them -- noisy installations like Slater Bradley’s film Year of the Doppelganger, in which a young man plays the drum part to Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” on the 50-yard line of UC Berkeley’s football stadium.
The centerpiece was a large Plexiglas cube in the main exhibition room -- Rirkrit Tiravanija’s UNTITLED 1996 (REHEARSAL STUDIO NO. 6 Silent Version) -- where the Down Home Southernaires were set up with electric guitar, keyboard, bass, and electronic drums piped into a mixing board. On the outside, six spectators at a time stood wearing headphones to listen to the music being created inside. Without the headphones, the only discernable sounds were the band’s occasional whooping and hollering. (Bands can book the space throughout the exhibition, which runs through September 7, though “slots are filling up fast,” said museum executive director Bonnie Clearwater.)
In addition to album cover art by Raymond Pettibon (Black Flag), Pedro Bell (Funkadelic), and Christian Marclay (collages blending the likes of David Bowie, Madonna, and Motley Crue), rock’s most revered format, vinyl, served as a medium in Marclay’s Untitled. The piece -- consisting of a couple hundred LPs affixed to the floor of a small room that visitors can walk through – served as a sort of game: Spot the album!
“The Osmonds!” a woman shouted.
“Seals and Crofts,” her male companion groaned. “I bought that in the day.”
“I need to do this in my own room,” said the woman.
Another pair of women entered the space, hunched over.
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“The Best of the Doobies,” said one.
“There is such a thing?” the other replied, laughing.