Music is a Better Noise brings together musicians who make art and artists who make music, or for whom music is an integral part of their creative process. The exhibition, featured in two parts in P.S.1’s first floor Drawing and Painting Galleries, also includes a video program in the Vault. The title of the exhibition is taken from a 1979 song by the English post-punk group Essential Logic, led by teenage saxophonist Lora Logic. Music is a Better Noise is on view from October 29, 2006 through January 29, 2007.
The first part of the exhibition, organized by P.S.1 Curatorial Advisor Nick Stillman and featured in the Drawing Gallery, focuses on New York-based artists/musicians who emerged during New York’s remarkable mid-1970s to early 1980s period, and who continue to make music today. Artists included in this gallery are Barbara Ess, Rammellzee, and Alan Vega. Ess, a photographer who has made records with several bands, including Y Pants, the Static, Ultra Vulva, and Radio Guitar, will show a selection of her trademark photographs made with a pinhole camera, as well as a series of new works. Legendary rapper Rammellzee will include a group of his “Letter Racer” tanks made from scavenged trash, a doll representing the artist, and a variety of new works. Alan Vega, who formed the iconic electro-punk group Suicide with Martin Rev in the early 1970s, will unveil a suite of new sculptures from New York City’s detritus and discarded junk to accompany works from the 1990s.
In the Painting Gallery, the second part of the exhibition focuses on works by a range of artists and musicians who have been active since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Organized by P.S.1 Curatorial Advisor Bob Nickas, this gallery includes works by Richard Aldrich, who also performs with Hurray; German artist Kai Althoff, a member of the Cologne-based Workshop; psych/folk singer Devendra Banhart; Bjorn Copeland, guitarist in Black Dice; Japanese artist Eye, of noise-punk legends The Boredoms; Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth; Vancouver-based Rodney Graham; Tim Kerr, a key figure in the Austin, Texas music scene of the 1980s; the German (New York-based) painter Jutta Koether, who has recorded and performed with Rita Ackermann, Electrophilia, and Kim Gordon; English artist Mark Leckey, well-known for his installations of sound systems, as well as for performances, videos, and records with donAteller; Christian Marclay, who has mixed art and music in his work since the 1980s; Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth; Chuck Nanney, who has created a site-specific sound piece for one of the building’s stairwells; the collaborative team of Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom; Meredyth Sparks, whose glitter photo portraits are inspired by performers such as Ian Curtis of Joy Division; and Don van Vliet, whose paintings gained attention in the mid-1980s as part of neo-Expressionism, and who, as Captain Beefheart, is widely regarded for the music he made between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, an iconoclastic mix of psychedelic rock, Delta blues, and free jazz.
The video portion of the exhibition, presented in the Vault, includes an outrageous music video by Raw Sewage, a group led by the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist active in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s; Swiss artist Olaf Breuning; Mark Leckey; Swedish artist Klara Liden; Christian Marclay; Ara Peterson, whose video is scored by former Spacemen 3 member Sonic Boom; Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom; and Mika Tajima, who regularly performs with the group New Humans.