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Archive for March, 2009

SHELFLIFE #19B: X-GIRL 1994 CATALOG

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The nineties weren’t bad. When people collaborated on projects, nobody slapped the presently ubiquitous X between collaborator names. They shoved that X right up there in the only name that matters–the singular brand-name. Executives at companies like Nike enjoy staring robotodreamily out their windows, surveying little fish-bowls like Portland and scheming up new ways to force-feed the notion that they’re not only relevant, but, get this–iconic–down culture’s consumption-addicted blogschlong-worn throat.

Manipulating your perception keeps their cool-consultants, marketing, advertising, publicity and street-team resources busy. Brands today are as iconic as their pockets are deep, their publicists are connected and everyone’s favors are owed. Beyond that, their products are what they are–the same crap they’ve been churning out for the past 20 years in a new colorway on another blog. There’s not much mystery there. There’s no sincere, primal cachet. There’s little style. There’s nothing to merit a glance back 15 years from now accompanied by the single-note sonata of a heartfelt pang of nostalgia for the story of why something was. In the nineties, the dotcom-induced virus of chronic entrepreneurial masturbation was neither as accessible nor pervasive as it is today. Creative people did creative shit because they were creative and they could. They had style to say, and damnit–that saying was gonna be said.

A few organizations came to epitomize merit-based brand-cachet in those years. X-girl was one of them. Kim Gordon, Daisy von Furth, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, Andy Jenkins, ChloĆ© Sevigny, Mike Mills, Free Kitten, Sonic Youth, The Beastie Boys–they didn’t just wear the stuff–they were all involved in it. They packaged it their way. The shop was their shop. The cuts were their cuts. The visual vernacular was their vernacular. They sampled wisely from a disparate past and a pop-then, but the wells they pulled from were of their personalities–as opposed to the pong-like tedium of the inter-brand quoting so pervasive today.

Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of old catalogs scanned. I’m making animated gifs of them. This first one is a xeroxed/stapled mini-zine they did in 1994. I’ll post the others in the future if this one goes well. If it’s not animating for you, shut off your fucking iPhone and get on a real computer.

SHELFLIFE #19A: SILENCE

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The time that Sensational Fix curator, Roland Groenenboom, has spent with the work of Sonic Youth and their friends seems to have been superbly digested. Something that many of the artists involved in the show share widely in common is an involvement in the production of accessible, serial ephemera. Most are still generating print editions, publishing or writing zines, books, broadsides, chapbooks or pamphlets, printing tshirts, making records… Regardless of perceived value as artists, most everyone in the show is still actively making collectible works available to admirers of their creativity via channels beyond the hyper-inflated fantasy-priceland of galleries.

Having completed an exhibition catalog potentially priced beyond the reach of many young exhibition attendees, Roland decided to tap the over-arching communal belief in democratic content distribution and enlist exhibiting artists to contribute new work to a series of cheap, numbered, thematic, xeroxed zines. I contributed the piece below to the first issue, SILENCE. I can’t wait to stuff a sliver of my shelves with the entire series.

habib silence illustration

SHELFLIFE #18B: CLUB IN THE SHADOW CARD

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Kim and Jutta curated a radically organic project at Kenny Schachter’s conTEMPorary in the far West Village–the Club in the Shadow. I had a ton of films on a loop upstairs. Kim and I collaborated on a series of videos of artists dancing in the spare, curved steel-mesh, Vito Acconci designed gallery. I shot Alan Licht, Jutta Koether, Karen Finley and Kim each performing to music of their choosing and cranked out a hyper-slow, meditative abstraction of those performances as an edition for the show. Double Leopards, Charalambides, Magick Markers, Alan Licht and a number of other phenomenal bands did sporadic sets. Electrophilia played what I seem to remember being one of their final shows before Steve Parrino’s fatal motorcycle accident. The space was more about sitting on the cold concrete floor and enjoying the ephemerality of whatever it was that would soon no longer be contained within it than it was about absorbing the few things that remained inside it as constants.

Kim printed up a box of membership cards for the club. I think Kenny was giving them away. Maybe they were for sale. I can’t remember. The image on the front is of Monica Lewinsky shuddering at the girth of Thurston’s tip-nibbled, unpeeled banana. It was taken in a trailer backstage at one of the Central Park Wilco/Sonic Youth shows. I have video of this…going down…somewhere. Somehow, though–neither the tropical cock, nor the gash at the end of the Clinton Administration are what make that picture. Thurston’s shirt… The thing people who’ve never been in or toured with a band don’t understand is that the access you gain to incredible t-shirts by driving thru every po’ dunk town in the many armpits of this globe is a luxury few torso’d mortals can really fathom.

club in the shadow card