Friday, February 3, 2012

Now in Past Tense!

I wasn't really planning to weigh in writing-wise on the passing of Mike Kelley, but Artinfo decided to post my already-completed upcoming Modern Painters cover story on Destroy All Monsters, so here's an excerpt and the link...

"Prior to 1994, if you mentioned the name Destroy All Monsters to punk aficionados, it conjured only a minor footnote: a band in Michigan rock music history known for the participation of the former Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and the MC5 bassist Michael Davis. But by the time its first single, “Bored,” was released in 1978, three of the band’s four original members had left; two of them, Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, had headed west to attend graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles.

During the course of the next two decades, Kelley — who died on February 1 — and Shaw rose to the upper echelons of the international art world. Their work prompted considerable interest in the little-heard earlier incarnation of DAM, which also included the filmmaker Cary Loren and the chanteuse Niagara. In 1994, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and the music critic Byron Coley issued a lavish three-CD set of archival DAM recordings, which was a revelation to many. It garnered unexpected critical accolades and prompted a series of reunion projects, including performances, recordings, art exhibitions, and publications that brought together various ephemera, such as the collective’s eponymous post-psychedelic, pre-punk zine.

Although the intervening years have seen a steady stream of DAM-related activities and artifacts, 2011 saw a significant increase, culminating in a small retrospective at the Prism Gallery, in West Hollywood, accompanied by a lavish catalogue published by the co- curator Dan Nadel’s imprint, PictureBox. The title of the book (and the exhibition), “Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1973–1977,” provides a strong hint that the DAM reclamation was largely part of the co-curator Kelley’s ongoing exploration of the recovering, reconstruction, and archiving of lost personal and cultural histories, and as such, it manages to short-circuit or repurpose most of the problematic absurdities inherent in exercises in DIY subcultural nostalgia..."

Read the rest of Punks Out of the Past: Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, and Destroy All Monsters here

1 comment:

Charles Hatfield said...

Thank you for your article! I read the full version at ArtInfo and it crystallized for me some things I had known (or had thought I knew) a little something about, though what I knew was barely an iceberg's tip. I'm particularly excited about Shaw's work in graphic narrative; thank you for the alert.

I had wanted to contact you privately re: my new book on Jack Kirby, given your writing on Kirby, but I have not been able to make contact via your website ( May I get in touch with you? I'm reachable at (please forgive the self-promotion).

Digging the blog, and learning.