Images, Sounds, Ephemera: A manifesto of Ignorance


EXHIBITION: SAT 17th SEPT – SAT 15th OCT, WED – SAT, 12 – 6pm


“We had slightly artistic and avant-garde pretensions, we were in your face but we also had a sense of humor - albeit a very sour one. And as with the punk rockers, there was a definite class affiliation which we were unwilling to give up, even if we weren’t very happy about it. We would, or could not adopt totally the ultra-cool ironic and commercially packaged stances of Kraftwerk and Roxy Music. The pure noise we cranked out was still moving to us; there were vestiges of the uplifting psychedelic rock aura left about it...though this might have been apparent only to us and not the average listener.” - Mike Kelley, 1993

Named after a Japanese monster movie, Destroy All Monsters was formed in 1973, by University of Michigan art students Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Niagara (Lynn Rovner) and filmmaker Cary Loren. Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley would later attend CalArts and achieve widespread acclaim as visual artists. Beginning as an anti-rock band their music was a ringing transmission from the suburban dystopian psyche, an experimental sound with distinct echoes picked up from diverse sources such as The Stooges, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Velvet Underground, and Sci-Fi B-movie soundtracks. Operating in this capacity until 1976, the collective’s output also included intense performances and films, which were strongly aligned with the extraordinary, camp, trashiness of Jack Smith’s underground cinema.

A magazine of the same name, edited by Loren until 1979, consisted of artwork, photographs, and flyers produced by the collective. Printed using any papers and techniques available to the band, the issues combine the cut and paste tactics of punk zines with a psychedelic affinity for color. Destroy All Monsters Magazine functions as a kind of manifesto, providing insight into the band through densely layered pages with movie imagery, kitsch, cartoons, delicate drawings, and counter-culture collages filtered through to the collective’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

CARY LOREN will be curating an exhibition focusing on the Destroy All Monsters archive of 8mm, super-8, and 16 mm film phantasies including Grow Live Monsters (1971-1976), Strange Früt: Rock Apocrypha (1998), Shake a Lizard Tail or Rust Belt Rump (1996) and Clear Day (1999) as well as photographs and related ephemera.

Born 1955 in Detroit, Cary Loren is an artist, musician and writer. In 1973 he apprenticed with New York City performance artist and filmmaker Jack Smith, and was a founding member of the Destroy All Monsters collective. His work has been shown at the Whitney Biennial of American Art in 2002; Printed Matter and Performa in New York City, 2009; the American Academy in Rome, 2010, and in What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art 1960 to the Present at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island in 2014.

Part of our 2016 programme:

‘Collective Intention: Affirmative visions from communes, collectives and cults’.