MY SONIC YOUTH
October 24, 2015– January 09, 2016
Fabien Castanier Gallery
2919 La Cienega Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Read the exhibition essay:
Teenage Kicks: How Stuart Semple’s Pictures Came and Broke My Heart
by Jonathan R Jones
Stuart Semple has used painting, sculpture, and installation to explore social concepts, in addition to dissecting the psychological evolution of youth culture, over the course of several decades. Semple illustrates how spaces, communication, and music have changed drastically, forcing a generation of young people into a new kind of isolation. Heavily inspired by the music of his own youth, there are references from music and art history to construct a fluid visual narrative, which tells the tale of a radical social and emotional shift among youth culture.
‘My Sonic Youth’ charts the course to that state through the rise and fall of the teenager as a social category. The work draws comparisons between the inversion of public and private space and the rise of the Internet and ‘anti-social’ media. The work also draws on a wide remit of inspiration from the prophetic song lyrics of the music of his youth, found photography including imagery from recently released Seattle Police Department photos of Kurt Cobain’s death scene, archive images of Warhol’s scars and images from internet-trash culture.
Two things happened in the first half of 1994. Kurt Donald Cobain was found dead on the floor of his greenhouse and the Fraunhofer Society released the first software MP3 encoder. In that moment physical music became digital and the teenage dream became a nightmare with its physical spaces starting their journey to becoming virtual.
Throughout Semple’s account he points out that during the 1960s teen culture began to thrive, starting with the mod scene in London and reaching across to America where Warhol was creating young icons of a perfected counterculture. Both scenes were rooted in art, music, and ideas of a subversive creative community. This transition marked the beginning of the “counterculture superstar”, to rebel against popular culture, perfection, and the ideal, to create a new kind of celebrity. The spirit of the new celebrity lived on into the 80’s and 90’s, decades that Semple suggests mark the pivotal change in a generation of teens whose identities and emotions are now atomized behind anti-social networking.