What separates creation from replication? And at what point does a reproduction of an artistic work or event take on its own context?
The McEvoy Foundation for the Arts show titled What is an edition, anyway? closes with a discipline-blurring event this weekend that will encourage guests to contemplate those questions and more.
“There’s a lot of work in the collection that does double-, triple-duty in this show,” says foundation executive director Susan Miller, the show’s curator. “It can be a picture that includes a book or another photograph. … It’s kind of a mind game, once you start opening up to the possibilities.”
The mind games reach their frenzied, multimedia conclusion on Saturday, Sept. 7, when Los Angeles noise punk band No Age debuts its latest album in a live performance in the foundation’s main gallery, where “What is an edition, anyway?” is on display.
Also screening during the performance will be a new film that No Age duo Dean Spunt and Randy Randall filmed and compiled the day before the band’s road trip to the Bay Area. At the end of the night, attendees will leave with an audiocassette of the performance created and taped in the gallery. None of the songs will have been previously recorded, adding another degree of originality and creation.
The entire happening is appropriately titled No Age: Score for the Day Before.
“It does feel like layering multiple disciplines on top of each other is a very contemporary thing,” says Spunt in a recent joint phone interview with Randall from Los Angeles. “It seems like more and more we get to straddle two worlds of performing in an art and rock ’n’ roll context. There’s two brains going on; they meet sometimes in the middle.”
The McEvoy show, a version of which was first presented in Chicago last year by Thomas Cvikota at Mana Contemporary, was expanded by the foundation to include artwork from the McEvoy Family Collection alongside projects by artists like Enrique Chagoya, Daniel Clowes, Ala Ebtekar, Jonn Herschend, Stephanie Syjuco and Hank Willis Thomas. The mediums range from drawings and paintings to sculptures, installation and video.
Multiple objects and works referencing the McEvoy family’s history in publishing (the family previously owned The Chronicle and owns Chronicle Books) were also included in the exhibition, fitting easily with the central “edition” context. Additional artists in the show include Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, John Waters, Wayne Thiebaud, Taryn Simon and Richard Prince.
Some of the pieces engage with the questions of reproduction, originality and value in cheeky ways, like Stephanie Syjuco’s “Excess Capital (Double or Nothing).” The piece displays editions of Karl Marx’s book “Capital,” which the artist found on eBay, and sells for double the price she paid for them, inserting a signed bookplate that reclassifies them as artist editions.
Kota Ezawa’s “Untitled Film Still” is a lightbox transparency of a photo by Cindy Sherman from her “Untitled Film Stills” series: It both reproduces aspects of Sherman’s original image and reinterprets it as a different form of media.
The blending of arts and artistic disciplines is central to Miller’s vision for McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, which opened in 2017.
“That’s where the engagement happens. That’s when you start to have feelings and a relationship to the work,” says Miller of the foundation events that gather seemingly disparate kinds of artists around a central theme. “I look at curation as a creative practice in itself.”
For No Age, the mixing of music, film and other artistic elements in a single performance isn’t unusual. Randall and Spunt say they’ve gotten into the habit of making iPhone videos on the road during their tours, first to promote the gigs and eventually as an element to include in their concerts.
“You have a lot of time on tour,” says Randall. “You can shoot a video and edit it all on your iPhone in a few hours.”
Capturing or reproducing the event of the road trip seemed like an additional way of playing with the central motif of editions, as does debuting original material to be recorded for an album, says Spunt.
Randall adds that the choice of producing cassettes over more digital-friendly recording methods highlights “the importance of cassettes as a medium not completely accessible to the outside world.
“It feels like an underground way to exchange information,” he explains. “It feels separate from the mass spread of information.”
With so many elements — performance, recording, filmmaking/projecting, cassette production — all happening within such a short span, plenty could go wrong. But No Age is ready to accept that as part of the hazards of the gig.
“The last show we did was in the middle of a field in west Massachusetts, with a giant hot air balloon with neon lights pulsating to our music,” recalls Randall. “What makes something like ‘Editions’ very attractive to us is that this kind of mashup-culture we do is used a lot now for promotion. It’s nice to see it in the context of art.”
“It’s not just about making a social media post,” Spunt chimes in.
“It’s about art for art’s sake,” says Randall.
“No Age: Score for the Day Before”: 5-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. $7-15. McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, 1150 25th St., Building B, S.F. www.mcevoyarts.org