WHAT A YEAR....
In no particular order here are my top ten favorite cultural moments in this, the year of our (over)lord, 2011.
10. Rebecca Black "Friday"
We all remember where we were when we saw it first, the hilariously dumb lyrics, the awkward singing, the cheesy effects, the nonsensical and pointless rap verse; this was THE video of the year. It was also the public's introduction into the weird weird world of Arc Music Factory, the un-ironic or self-aware tween music company that was a never ending rabbit whole of WTFs. But it was "Friday" that stole the show, and with good reason, it was such an abomination on all fronts that it was somehow really endearing, and will go down in history as a classic of internet meme culture. Here is to Rebecca Black and the Arc Music Factory, for making the world laugh, and drop their collective jaws in 2011.
9. Ryan Trecartin Any Ever at MOMA PS1, New York
I have written about my love and appreciation for Ryan's work here numerous times. A futurist, he is truly becoming the voice of a disembodied generation. A generation that occupies a multidimensional digital landscape that is truly schizophrenic, psychedelic, and hyper-real. Ryan Trecartin's work is a reflection of our post-post modern age in a way that feels very important and highly relevant in a way that most artists' work is not. Any Ever was his big museum show this year, (rare for any artist his age), and I flew out to New York just to see it. I was able to meet him, and even ended up in a strip club with him later that night (right after I was almost arrested with my friends Ryder Ripps, and Cody Critcheloe from SSION, but that's another story). So, back to the art, consisting of seven different videos in different rooms that were fully immersive environments, the show was fantastic and hugely inspiring. It is hard to think of any other artist really speaking as poetically about my generation like Trecartin. A true genius. I look forward to following his work for years to come.
Below is a video of a video taken from Any Ever and my song I made for the "Any Ever" opening. Originally distributed on hand labeled CD-Rs at the opening.
8. Araab Muzik Live at GHE20 GOTHIK
Some photos I took that don't do the reality of the situation justice. Shout-out Venus X and Azizaman.
Araab Musik had quite the year, mainly by blowing a lot of peoples minds with the great "Electronic Dream." But I was lucky enough to catch a live set by the producer in a small basement rave in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The party was one of the notorious and famed raves put on by the often imitated, but never duplicated GHE20 GOTHIK crew, and that night, Araab Muzik was a secret guest. Seeing talent like Araab Muzik in a DIY punk-style setting like that was nothing short of legendary, and his set melted the room. He just stands at his MPC, and beats at it like some sort of cyborg, seemingly un-human. It was a real game-changing moment, for all of music. I feel like no one could believe what they were seeing, or hearing. That night Araab Muzik tore a hole in the fabric of reality, no joke.
In April of this year, I was fortunate enough to travel down to Mexico City to do a performance with the dark lord RITUALZ. The whole trip was incredible and I was also able to go to Monterrey and DJ Tribal Musica to local kids there alongside one of my favorite producers, 17 year old 3ball phenomenon, Erick Rincon. It was something I will never forget. But the most amazing and life altering experience came from visiting the ruins of the grand city of Teotihuacan. Full disclosure, the experience of the ruins was enhanced through some high-grade Mexican LSD, but it wasn't the acid that made it special. Being in such a sacred ancient place that is architecturally sound with the earth, its environment, and the cosmos is nothing short of mind altering. No modern buildings have this effect. It was very powerful, and I couldn't help but wonder, of course, just WHAT was the true purpose of these massive pyramids? Maybe one day humanity will remember our true past. Oh, and we also shot a music video while at the pyramids.
6. Prurient "Bermuda Drain"
My album of the year. I feel I have already written in depth a few times about this record, but it is just flawless and epically beautiful. A dark masterpiece of sound design and brutal emotion by the mighty noise god, Prurient. Noise purists were confused and angered by this release, what with the synths, and the drum machines! Heaven forbid. Respect.
5. Snack the Planet
In July, an art event like no other I have been a part of occurred in downtown Manhattan. Inside the Museum of Art and Design was a room with a fully equipped flavored oxygen bar, energy drink shrimp cocktails and cyber snacks, the most fashionable of the contemporary New York underground, and a black-lit, white-carpeted chill-out space with blue plastic blow-up furniture. This was Snack the Planet, an experimental party thrown by curators of the next age, Patrik Sandberg, and Lauren Devine, both affiliates of the always amazing DIS Magazine. The idea was to somewhat re-create the classic cyber-arcade hangout from the seminal 1995 movie Hackers but what ended up being created was a genuine Temporary Autonomous Zone. Lighting and "set design" was left up to genius design crew Thunderhorse Video who hand made the entire cyber bar from scratch. Performances included the incredible queer-art rap poetry of Mykki Blanco with Physical Therapy as her DJ, supreme vibe controllers Teengirl Fantasy, and myself with full choreography by my two incredible dancers, Raw Acid. The event itself was just unbelievable. The energy was explosive because everyone was high on oxygen, life, and energy drinks. During my performance, people were literally humping on the ground, blowing up condoms, molesting my dancers, and generally just freaking out. I honestly don't think a crowd has been that fanatical in uptight Manhattan since the early 80s. It was a sight to behold, and that night, Snack The Planet was a cultural revolution. View incredible photos by Rez Avizzar of the whole night, here.
4. James Ferraro "Far Side Virtual"
The conceptual art statement of the year. "Far Side Virtual" was a revelation. From the genius merry prankster that is James Ferraro, the album was a psychedelic journey through our consumerist culture. As a statement regarding what it is like to be a human being living in a manufactured reality, where everything is designed to be simplified and consumed by a mass audience, this album hits that on the head better than any essay of cultural theory could. Sounding like hitting the "demo" key on an old keyboard while shopping in a supermarket while riding an elevator in Starbucks all captured on a thrift store VHS cassette, nothing sounded like this this year. I don't know how he did this. It is simply brilliant.
3. Matthew Stone "Optimism as Cultural Rebellion" The Hole Gallery
Matthew Stone is a British artist whom I have been a big fan of for some time. A few years ago in Denver, I was hosting an art salon in a speakeasy bar once a month, where a small group of artists and thinkers would get together to discuss a topic. On one occasion, we chose to discuss the radical notion of optimism and its revolutionary power to change. I presented some of Matthew Stone's essays on the idea of how optimism is extremely important and as a tactic in radicalism and the progression of culture and spirit. So it was fantastic to be able to attend the opening for his American debut show dealing with that concept. There was a deep transcendent spirituality to the work in the show, which is one of Matthew's gifts and strong points. Matthew's photographic and sculptural work is extremely poetic and romantic and references classical painting, yet is overtly queer and contemporary. I feel a spiritual connection to Matthew as he fancies himself a bit of a shaman and shares a lot of the same conceptual outlooks on life and humanity that I do. His work shows the power in geometry and in the human form, the soul inside of the body. It was just sublime.
2. American Indie Rap Getting Its Groove Back
As an old school indie-rap head (um, remember anticon?) it was cool to see that 2011 was the year American underground rap broke out with a vengeance unseen since the days of Company Flow in the late 90s. With the music industry in steady decline, mainstream artists were left scratching their heads, as their lyrics of money, cars, and clothes were becoming increasingly irrelevant. It seems like indie rap was everywhere this year, with the Internet explosions of Odd Future (Yonkers, anyone?) and Kreayshawn; like it or not, teenagers on DIY budgets were making a loud splash. This year we saw the breakout of some new stars climbing to the top from the underground. Artists like Danny Brown and ASAP Rocky both had incredible, and dare I say historical albums, and Das Racist were on the fucking cover of SPIN magazine. Rappers like Young L and Spaceghostpurrp were putting out really dope mixtapes. And I saw the magician god himself, Lil B, give one of the weirdest and most avant-garde performances I have ever seen, with a full on New-Age spoken-word sermon during the supermoon at the Fader fort during SXSW to over 2000 people. That was some incredible fucking shit. ART RAP IS BACK!
1. The #Occupy Movement and the Global Uprising
Watching 4 a.m. livestream on the Internet from some dude's cellphone of hundreds of riot police violently destroying and dismantling the #occupywallstreet protest center in Zuccotti Park because of a media blackout was disgusting, enraging, and an event that shook the world. Talk as much shit as you want on the occupiers, but this year they succeeded in snapping people out of their dark trance illusion that everything is fine and well in the world. It was the news story of the year, that was barely covered or taken seriously by the government-owned mainstream media. As they say, you can't arrest an idea, expect only more global conflict and revolution in 2012. Tear the shit down.
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