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Other Voices, Other Rooms
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London
7 October 2008 - 18 January 2009

Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


Write Dope on Pnuk part 57

Iconic artist Andy Warhol's exhibition 'Other Voices, Other Rooms' at the Hayward Gallery got me thinking about his position in relation to the New York punk scene.

One of the first exhibits is the remastered film of 'The Exploding Plastic Inevitable', featuring performance by The Velvet Underground and Nico. This was shown on a screen against Chairman Mao wallpaper. A slew of Warhol's Marilyn's and Campbell soup tins look down upon us. To one side are Polaroids, the subjects of which include members of The Rolling Stones (for whom Andy Warhol created the 'Sticky Fingers' album cover); surrealist Max Ernst; boxer Muhammad Ali; author William S. Burroughs; and singers Debbie Harry and Grace Jones.

Elsewhere there's a photograph including Candy Darling - mentioned in Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side'. In one section, devoted to the television Warhol created, in a few episodes Debbie Harry and Chris Stein crop up. In another section given over to Andy's films is the experimental 'Chelsea Girls' that featured Nico amongst its stars.

As an aside, a Brillo box, one of Andy Warhol's first Pop Art projects, reminded me of the comic Vertical by Steven T. Seagle and Mike Allred, set in The Factory in 1965. Another appearance by Warhol in comics were the over 200 clones of him in the American editions/continuations of Marvelman/Miracleman.

So, Andy Warhol and New York punk. I see him as a great--grandfather (along with William S. Burroughs) though not just through his use of The Velvet Underground. He celebrated the common place and the banal, and he reduced celebrity to a product. Yes, he saw the falsehood of the Establishment, and elevated that artificiality. An incredibly talented artist, he produced work that looked as though anyone could do it. And why shouldn't we? The telling image of the press show for the exhibition was of a photographer taking a picture of a photographer taking a picture of former Warhol Superstar (and mother of Beck) Bibbe Hansen. After all, what's the point of fame if we can't all be famous.


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