MoMA Mixtape: Laura Lee Comes Back to Herself
The Khruangbin bassist takes you on a sonic journey through time and space with a playlist inspired by works on view at MoMA.
Feb 28, 2023
After spending a year and a half touring and then a month and a half decompressing, a venture into the city for a day at MoMA was just what I needed to come back to myself and feel at home again. My intention for this next year off the road is to embrace being an observer, and this was the perfect opportunity to dig into that feeling. This playlist was inspired by the artworks that struck me most during my visit.
ShadowMachine. Church Set. 2019. On view in the exhibition Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio
ShadowMachine’s Church Set + The Electric Prunes’ “General Confessional”
I went to Catholic school growing up, which meant I went to church at least twice a week. When I first heard the Electric Prunes’ “General Confessional” in college, it awakened a link between creativity and childhood memory. The album harkens back to sonics that are so familiar in that setting, but is set in a psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll fantasy that made sense to me as a young adult. This would be the ideal song to play in my mind as I walked into the church I grew up with. It’s an opening—to allow for something epic.
Suzanne Jackson’s MaeGame + Art Farmer’s “Soulsides”
Jackson says “It’s political to make a piece about peace and beauty.” The heaviness of that statement resonates in the more introspective parts of Art Farmer’s song, and celebrated in the more playful moments that arise and make you want to hold out your arms, twirl around, and surrender. The painting feels alive without music. Listening to this song while looking at it, however, makes the characters and objects in it dance with me.
Suzanne Jackson. MaeGame. 1973. On view in the exhibition Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces
Lee Krasner. Gaea. 1966
Lee Krasner’s Gaea + Black Banda Rio’s “Vidigal”
Wow, how I love this pairing. If given the opportunity, please allow yourself to stand in front of this painting for the duration of this song—its scale allows for immersion. The horn accents and the joyous vocal melody match the expression I feel from Lee Krasner’s brush strokes. This tune feels like stumbling upon a celebration; perhaps completing this painting felt the same for Krasner.
ShadowMachine’s Cricket designs + La Lupe’s “Que te pedi”
I haven’t seen Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and don’t know his role in it, but to me this cricket reeks of passion. And when I think of passion, I think of La Lupe singing this song. Listening to the song and staring at this delicately crafted scene, my mind wanders to watching this cricket go into a deep, moody performance that wouldn’t be out of place on Drag Race All Stars. Bravo, cricket, bravo. Again, please.
ShadowMachine. Cricket’s Quill & Ink and Cricket’s Books. Oversized Cricket puppet by Mackinnon & Saunders. On view in Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio
Laura Lee at MoMA, January 17, 2023
“A venture into the city for a day at MoMA was just what I needed to come back to myself and feel at home again.” —Laura Lee
ShadowMachine’s Carnival Stage Set + Zohar Argov’s “עת דודים כלה”
I immediately thought of this song when I saw this set. This song paints the best parts of a carnival—the dramatic entrance, the coy beginnings, the dance—then goes into a full-blown circus fiesta. This song immediately transports, as does this immaculate set. And my favorite art—whether visual or sonic—is art that takes me somewhere.
ShadowMachine. Carnival Stage Set. On view in Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio
Mark Rothko’s No. 5/No. 22 + Roots Radics’ “Mission Impossible Dub”
Mark Rothko and the Roots Radics both represent expertise around the seemingly simple. The confidence exuded in knowing where to leave space—rather than knowing when to fill it—is a precious talent. I want to get lost in this painting, and I want to get lost in this song, yet I always know exactly where I am. They’re masterful.
From top: Mark Rothko. No. 5/No. 22. 1950 (dated on reverse 1949); Laura Lee at MoMA, January 17, 2023
ShadowMachine. Pinocchio’s Emotional Arc. 2019
ShadowMachine’s Pinocchio’s Emotional Arc + Pharoah Sanders’s “Colors”
When I’m overcome with emotion, especially a rollercoaster of varied feelings, I think of this song. Not only does it bring me peace in chaos, but it reminds me that things can be boiled down to just a few colors.
George Mingo’s Zebra Couple + Irma Thomas’s “Ruler of My Heart” (Soul Queen of New Orleans album version)
Left and right: Laura Lee in the Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces exhibition at MoMA; Center: George Mingo. Zebra Couple. 1983
The colors and playfulness of this family portrayal remind me of New Orleans, and so I chose a song by the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. It feels powerful with a touch of longing, just like this painting does to me. When it was first shown, this painting was the only piece in color in an entirely black-and-white exhibition. I like to imagine that it was the final piece, with this song serving as the outro music.
Ming Smith and the Energy of Jazz
The artist takes us on a journey through jazz and blues that inspired the photographs in her new exhibition.
Ming Smith, Habiba Hopson, Kaitlin Booher
Feb 1, 2023
Who Will Survive America: A Playlist Inspired by Who Is Queen?
Explore song selections from Jacques Morel that evoke the “radical juxtapositions” of Black Dada.
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