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April 20 2014

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Kim Gordon: Rock Star, Designer, Contemporary Artist

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Kim Gordon's artworks

Before she met Thurston Moore, before Sonic Youth and any inklings of the quake she would make in noise/art rock history (and before she had any connection to the fashion world, for that matter), Kim Gordon was an art student studying at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. She moved to New York after graduating in the late seventies, and started waiting tables and working in a couple of galleries as she made her own work on the side. Not long after, she had her first show at White Columns, then a “Deco building that looked like a showroom” in Soho, in 1981. “I started this thing with a friend of mine called Design Office—the idea was to do an intervention with private spaces: alter them in some physical, decorative way,” explained Gordon, who took over the gallery with household items from friends’ apartments. “It wasn’t really meant to be high design. It was more psychological—dealing with the idea of switching private and public.”

More than thirty years later, Gordon is once again showing at White Columns, this time presenting a retrospective of her work from 1980 to today. Design Office, which references the original early-eighties project and show, opens on September 7 with an exhibition of photographs, videos, sculptures, writings, and paintings. Many of the works have only been seen by a handful of people. “There are really early text pieces like small proposals for stories, paintings of noise bands, watercolors of guys in noise bands, and pictures of Paris Hilton, [as well as] more recent paintings of tweets that I took off Twitter,” explained the artist. “They look kind of minimal, and tie together by way of production value—like, not very good, poor production values. [I used] impure elements like glitter or canvases that are pretty cheap.”

Kim Gordon

Tweet paintings, like All Animals Have the Same Parts’ Pamela Anderson Retweeted by Richard Prince (top left,) are composed on ripped notebook paper and rest alongside electric-blue-covered twigs and painted jean skirts. A limited-edition solo vinyl recording by Gordon will accompany the exhibition.

The show opens just before the release of Gordon’s new album with noise experimentalist Bill Nace, titled Coming Apart, on September 10. “It’s kind of freer and more textural,” said Gordon, who will perform with Nace at Brooklyn’s Union Pool that night. “Some of it is sort of early Velvet-y…but it’s really like nothing I’ve heard.”

Design Office will be on exhibit from September 7 to October 19 at White Columns Gallery, 320 West 13th Street, New York.

Photos: Courtesy of White Columns Gallery

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