Thanks to the eagle eyed Mrs MPT, I was able to spend some time at the Sonic Youth exhibition ‘Sensational Fix’ in Malmo. Or rather I should say Sonic Youth etc exhibition since it doesn’t just focus on the band but also on influences, NYC contemporaries and those influenced by SY.
Nonetheless Sonic Youth themselves are at the heart of the exhibition both in band multi media exhibits, photos, sleeves, guitars and even the entire SY back catalogue available to listen to on a couple of PCs. The band members are also involved with some of their extra curricular art on display, such as Kim’s painting and Lee’s collaborations with his wife Leah Singer. Amongst these are ‘Drift’ a 57 minute collage of sound and images mixed with Lee’s spoken word passages. The portion I saw was engrossing and I had to tear myself away. But I was a bit surprised to find out that it’s actually commercially available.
Much of the non SY stuff featured artists whose names were more familiar to me than their work. Some of the images are a little surprising, some a little bizarre (Marnie Weber’s bunny pictures and Kathy Temin’s films of people miming to Kylie spring to mind) but some were quite striking.
All in all it’s an ambitious project and its credibility is emphasised by the fact that this run is being held in a prominent Scandanavian gallery. That emphasises that the exhibition goes way beyond a collection of paraphernalia about an influential American band.
In a lot of ways this is a side of Sonic Youth that I don’t think of much, which is pretty evident from these incoherent ramblings. It wouldn’t have interested me had it not been a band I love but clearly the exhibition is intended to reach beyond the SY rock audience. If you’re reading this, then the chances are you will be interested in and enjoy the exhibition which is in Malmo until 20th September. A possible venue for the UK in the autumn has apparently fallen through but it moves to Madrid in January 2010.