AFRAID OF MODERN LIVING | World Imitation & Monitor 1977-1982
March 4 - May 7, 2017
These Days is pleased to present an exhibition 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 will 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.
In the span of four years, Monitor released three recordings: the “Beak”/”Pet Wedding” 45, an eponymous LP and another single under the name “The Tikis.” Acting as a record label, World Imitation also released the premier recording of the Meat Puppets in 1981. Recently re-mastered and re-released on vinyl and CD by Superior Viaduct, Monitor’s music is once again available to the general public.
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 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.”
This 40th anniversary exhibition celebrates the work of World Imitation, whose skewed worldview remains disturbing, riotous, and strangely profound.
A catalog documenting the exhibition was published by Kill Your Idols Books.