Afraid of Modern Living


Afraid of Modern Living
4 March-7 May 2017

“Afraid of Modern Living” is devoted to the work of Los Angeles collective World Imitation Productions. First emerging as creators of collaged and photocopied mail art and publications in the late 1970s, World Imitation is perhaps best known in their musical incarnation, the band Monitor, active between 1978 and 1982.

The exhibition draws from an archive of materials that together hold up a funhouse mirror to Southern California culture, consumer dystopia, and the late 1970s punk movement. Rarely seen publications, paintings, sculpture, video, and vintage flyers are be on view, along with interactive elements based on recently discovered World Imitation source materials and formative works.

As a musical group, World Imitation gravitated to the Los Angeles punk scene for an audience, sharing the stage with local and international acts of the time such as the Bags, Human Hands, 45 Grave, the Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Lydia Lunch, and Suicide. Monitor’s primal disco offered a soundtrack for a California where exotica, aerospace, and the supernatural have been recombined in novel ways, employing electronics and thrashing guitars to create a new music based on ancient hymns and dirges.


World Imitation publications of the late 1970s included titles such as Surf Rules, Tesla-Rama, Hula Dance, and Computer Buddy. These handmade pamphlets, as well as the group’s “happenings”, reflect their interest in disparate topics such as exotica, psychedelia, pranks, UFOs, the paranormal, and Disneyland as a site of anthropological research.

In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, World Imitation curated pioneering exhibitions of “found” paintings culled from thrift stores, lost pet flyers, and other abject works. In 1981, they teamed up with Jeffrey Vallance to produce the infamous “Fix-it-Up” show in which ”high art” by celebrated artists including Ed Ruscha, George Herms, and Chris Burden was defaced, or “fixed up”.

A book documenting the exhibition and history of World Imitation and Monitor published by Kill Your Idols will be released in conjunction with the show.

(adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


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