PRINT February 2004


Bennett Simpson on art and pop music

DO YOU WANT NEW WAVE, or do you want the truth? So asked the punk band Minutemen in 1984—and the verdict is still out, especially in art. The prominence of pop music in recent art, from rock and punk to noise, techno, and hip-hop, is one of the most ambiguous developments of the past five years. Music figures centrally in the practices of significant and established contemporary artists such as Stephen Prina, Mike Kelley, and Rodney Graham. It is a conspicuous influence for artists otherwise as disparate as Elizabeth Peyton, Jeremy Blake, and Nick Relph and Oliver Payne. It is employed as semiotics, performance, metaphor, structure, sound track, attitude, and target. Within the past two years alone, a slew of museum exhibitions have expressed art’s new interest in pop, from “Sonic Process” at the Centre Georges Pompidou and “Rock My World” at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco to

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