Sonic Youth cofounder, partner install immersive art exhibition at WT

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Announced by the University, the cofounder of Sonic Youth and his artist partner have presented an immersive art installation in West Texas A&M University’s Dord Fitz Formal Gallery.

Leah Singer, a multidisciplinary artist and magazine editor, and Lee Ranaldo, who cofounded the indie rock band in 1981, created the installation as a visual and audio survey of 2020.

“Yesterday Was a Year Ago (I Don’t Want a Future, I Want a Present)” will be on view through April 24 in the gallery, located inside Mary Moody Northen Hall on WT’s Canyon campus. A recent artists’ talk may be viewed online.

“While the elephant in the room is the coronavirus pandemic, this show is not about that nor the other world-shaking events of the last year,” said Jon Revett, Fitz Gallery director and associate professor of painting and drawing. “Rather, it is a reminder that no matter how crazy life gets, there still are beautiful moments.”

According to the University, Singer and Ranaldo have collaborated on live music and video installations and performances for three decades, performing worldwide at film festivals, concert halls, clubs and museums. Recent live performances have been large-scale, multi-projection sound-and-light events.

Revett first connected with Ranaldo after the singer released the album “Amarillo Ramp (For Robert Smithson) in 1998, inspired by the Land Art pioneer’s titular earthwork, located 15 miles northwest of Amarillo.

Revett had hoped, said the University, to film Ranaldo performing on Amarillo Ramp itself in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed that project.

Discussions continued, leading to Ranaldo and Singer’s interest in bringing a new installation to WT, Revett said.

“The goal of the exhibit is to expose the students to trends in contemporary art, especially those made in new media like video and sound,” Revett said. “Since many of our students are digital natives, this exhibit has the potential to connect with our students using a language they understand, encouraging them to consider the last year in aesthetic terms and consider strategies of presenting work in non-traditional formats.”

WT said that students worked with WT’s Information Technology office to install the exhibition, and the artists are also collaborating in other ways with Revett’s video art class.

Images and clips will live on after the show closes through an Instagram account:

Singer works in photography, video, publishing and printmaking. She is a writer for and coeditor of Apartamento, an international art and design magazine. In addition to his work with Sonic Youth, Ranaldo has been active worldwide for 40 years as a composer, performer and producer. His solo acoustic composition “In Virus Times” was released in February, and his album “Names of North End Women” was released in 2020.

Fitz Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and by appointment on weekends.

WT said that a commitment to the arts and humanities is a pivotal piece of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

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