No Context: Leif Garrett Pinups, Sonic Youth Cassettes, Kiss Makeup at the New Museum


Steven Shearer, Activity Cell with Warlock Bass Guitar, 1997

Double Album: Daniel Guzmán + Steven Shearer
New Museum
April 24

What a drag, being forced to behold the basic, untransubstantiated stuff of semi-music-related pop-culture—Leif Garrett pinups, Sonic Youth cassette tapes, Kiss makeup, Stooges logos—in places that could do better, like the New Museum. The general reverse Warholing of that which has been already Warholed, the bland regard for totems that already swim in self-regard; the idea that mass culture rock n roll can stand in for your identity in a way that transcends the manner in which it stands in for my identity: isn’t this the exact illusion we burn off when we become adults and realize that when we were sixteen, we were not in fact alone, were not in fact on some other planet? That we were in it together? That our concert T-shirts had twins?

Beyond the general is-what-it-is—Guzmán’s Kiss figurines reconceived as Day of the Dead dolls (Kiss My Ass), Shearer’s portraits of longhairs (Longhairs)—Double Album’s sure to elicit shrugs from those who own TVs and listen to music. The general agony comes when you realize that at least half the show is one irretrievably mixed metaphor, from the title on down. Ultimate mashup prize goes to Guzmán’s Burn, which flips a Deep Purple album title into two stacks of last week’s Village Voice and a couple of semi-figurative plaster busts—bam, Twin Towers. As for Shearer, he lays a Warlock bass guitar down inside a child’s windowed play space—bam, Reverse Panopticon. But why not commit to a real shocker? Why not just dress the Warlock in an undershirt and no pants and videotape it making love to Amy Poehler, who’s on the cover of this week’s Voice? Instead of filming it inside a children’s play set, why not shoot it inside the office of New Museum chief curator Richard Flood, while he plays the Warlock to the tune of “New York Groove”? Why not just go ahead and make it a three-way with a nine-foot tall Cousin It figure made entirely out of fake gold rapper chains?