The Culture Club: Modern Art, Rock and Roll, and Other Things Your Parents Warned You About
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THE CULTURE CLUB puts the history of art and philosophy through a shredder, throws the remains in a plastic bag with a torn-up copy of last month′s ROLLING STONE and some old TV guides, tips everything out on the floor and glues the pieces where they land. Now Vincent Van Gogh finds himself sharing studio space with Prince and Steven Spielberg; John Cage guest stars on THE MUPPET SHOW; and futurist composer Luigi Russolo does the orbit with Grandmaster Flash. It′s not exactly the way you learned history at school - more like a visit to some weird nightclub where Albert Camus takes the stage to read from THE OUTSIDER while the Dust Brothers seamlessly mix The Cure into the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. What is this place? Is that Friedrich Nietzsche talking to Elvis Presley over there? And was that really Marcel Duchamp′s Fountain you saw in the toilets? Craig Schuftan is on hand to make the introductions in THE CULTURE CLUB. Grab a drink, pull up a chair and let him convince you that French dramatist Antonin Artaud really is just as important to the history of rock and roll as Guns ′n′ Roses.
that boxed set of Fluxus music I saw in the window of the record shop last weekend. I’d have the satisfaction of holding that heavy, shiny, tastefully designed thing in my hand, the feeling that I now owned something significant and important, and that, maybe, just a little of the art-historical fairy-dust that surrounds Fluxus might have brushed off on me. It’d be kind of cool, too, to hear for myself what those crazy nights in New York and Cologne actually sounded like — to hear the sound of
words read heard overheard. What else? Use of scissors renders the process explicit and subject to extension and variation.11 Burroughs’s cut-up novels might not have been flying off the shelves like Len Deighton or Barbara Cartland, but they went down a storm at the Twickenham Arts Lab in the late 1960s, where a young folk-singing Dylan fan calling himself David Bowie was organising a series of Sunday night Happenings featuring mime, Free Jazz and tie-dyeing classes. In this milieu, Burroughs
were their favourites. Like Warhol with his Esther Williams musical, they weren’t going to see art films, they were watching films as art — looking for the unintentional, the surprising, the raw stuff that film fantasies are made from. This approach to mass culture wasn’t limited to the cinema — shopping could be a creative act, too. In the wake of Duchamp’s snow shovel, the hardware store became alive with possibilities, the flea markets of Paris in the 1920s and 30s full of readymade sculpture
It starts out like a manifesto for a design school, but by the end, it sounds more like the kind of literature handed out by people who are trying to get you to join a cult. This, at least in the early days of the Bauhaus, was not too far from the truth. Gropius hired two types of teachers for his new school: the Workshop Masters, who would teach the students how to craft wood and steel, weave tapestries and throw pots; and the Masters of Form, who were mostly painters, and would instruct the
airbrush. In all of this, Dali’s influence loomed large. Giger updated Dali’s horror of ‘soft’ forms to an atomic-age obsession with boiling, bubbling flesh and mutated humanoid monsters, while his Biomechanoids, with their oddly distended, veiny skulls, recalled the phallic growth of William Tell’s right buttock in Dali’s The Enigma of William Tell. Like Dali, Giger did not believe in censoring his thoughts: ‘The drawing arose spontaneously’, he said of his first airbrush works from 1972. ‘I