In its new exhibition Sympathy for the Devil, the MCA is pinning fall blockbuster hopes on The Velvet Underground, eighties post-punk, and the darker fringes where rock and art intersect. Curator Dominic Molon, 37, first connected contemporary art to music as a Palos Park teen; “Something clicked,” he says, the day he saw an Anselm Kiefer exhibition and the concert film Stop Making Sense. Molon discussed key works from the show, running Sept. 29th through Jan. 6th.
I Need More
The MCA originally planned to hang these drawings of Iggy Pop in the men’s room; in the ladies’, they wanted to hang Flores’s pictures of singer Jayne County (Wayne County, pre–sex change). But after security concerns were raised, Molon decided to hang the drawings with the rest of the show. “Glam rock was that great moment of sexual confusion,” Molon says, explaining that the drawings tease out the era’s blurred line between masculine and feminine attributes.
Neil Young, Neil Young
The Chicago artist photographed herself holding Neil Young’s self-titled 1969 album in front of her face. “Melanie’s reflecting on the way we internalize these rock ‘n’ roll bands that are important to us,” Molon says. “It’s a portrait of herself, but it also suggests that Neil Young is a very strong part of her.”
No Title (Fight for Freedom!)
Now a contemporary art star, the California artist first drew attention when his images landed on the album covers of the band Black Flag (Pettibon’s brother, Greg Ginn, was in the band). “Rather than show a Black Flag album cover, I thought it would be interesting to show these as stand-alone art works that have this other history,” Molon says. “The imagery can hold its own.”
Still from the movie Submit to Me Now
The New York artist shot this angry pose by the actress Lung Leg in 1987, and it ended up on the cover of Sonic Youth’s Evol. “There’s a certain viciousness to her gesture,” Molon says. “A lot of punk and rock musicians position themselves with this very aggressive, angry identity. The picture really embodies that sensibility.”
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS COLLECTIVE
The Heart of Detroit by Moonlight
A Detroit art collective as well as a rock band, Destroy All Monsters depicts its own history in murals. “You see James Brown and all these cultural figures that went into what Destroy All Monsters became,” Molon says. “I like the fact that it says, ‘The band is one thing, but we wouldn’t be anything without James Brown, George Clinton, or Sun Ra.'”
photography: (1) mark flores, i need more, 2005. courtesy of david kordansky gallery, los angeles; (2) melanie schiff, Neil Young, neil young, 2006. collection of dennis and debra scholl, miami. courtesy of kavi gupta gallery, chicago; (3) raymond pettibon, no title (fight for freedom!), 1981. courtesy of regen projects, los angeles; (4) richard kern, film still from submit to me now, 1987. courtesy of the artist and feature, new york; (5) destroy all monsters collective, the heart of detroit by moonlight, 2001. courtesy of patrick painter, los angeles