Beyond the Valley of A Day in the Life
the Beach Boys
& stepping outside history
by Pacôme Thiellement
The relationship between the Beach Boys and the Beatles is at the heart of some key issues in pop culture, namely: can pop music function as a tool of knowledge? And if so, how? Author and essayist Pacôme Thiellement has published several articles on pop music, poetry, and black magic; here he offers an exegesis of Beach Boys’ and Beatles’ masterpieces in the same vein as his book on pop and gnosis, Poppermost: Considérations sur la mort de Paul McCartney (Paris: Musica Falsa, 2002), a theory of pop culture elaborated through a comparison of the Beatles and the Residents.
Thiellement has also published an essay on Frank Zappa from an anthropological perspective ( Economie Eskimo: Le rêve de Zappa , Paris: Musica Falsa, 2005) and, most recently, a study of Nerval (L’homme électrique: Nerval et la vie, Paris: Musica Falsa).
A Pop Project in a Hick World
(Or, How Ultralocal Becomes a Respectable Place)
by Guadalupe Echevarría
In this text, Guadalupe Echevarria compares examples of the political power of pop in various yet specific contexts at different points in history. From the birth of American folk music to Brazilian tropicàlia via Bob Dylan, her essay offers insight into the transgressive function of experiences that juxtapose art, popular culture, and politics in an age of ultralocal critical theory.
Echevarria is the director of the École des beaux-arts in Bordeaux.
Arcadia, Here and Now
by Emilie Renard
Emilie Renard’s L’Arcadie: ailleurs et autrefois, ici et maintenant et l’année prochaine is a project—built around a central text expounding her approach—that comparatively analyses numerous writings, pictures, and documents related to the notion of Arcadia. Study of the myth of Arcadia allows her to shed light on its multiple appearances in contemporary art, articulating notions of counter-culture, of collectivity, of community, and of an unknown or idealized “elsewhere.” Renard’s tentacular critical approach stems from research that attempts to explore what might now constitute a major artistic shift. It also includes an original method of categorization, organized into four main groups divided into subgroups, themselves composed of various elements. This collage-type method triggers startling ramifications, not unlike one of the explicit sources of the author’s technique, namely Dan Graham’s interpretative approach. Indeed, Graham’s text ARCADIA , translated into French and placed in perspective by Renard, occupies a specific place in the project.
Renard is an art critic and curator who lives and works in Paris.
Daniel Johnston R.I.P
by Wilfried Paris
In this article, Wilfried Paris adopts a unique approach to one of the key figures of pop culture: Daniel Johnston. An American songwriter born in 1961, Johnston is a mythical figure in more ways than one, since his life and various activities (including drawing) make him an archetypal (post)modern (anti)hero. An epic text—halfway between rock criticism, pop philosophy, and metaphysical fiction—reflects the ambivalence of its subject.
Wilfried Paris, a musician and journalist, here offers a unique, dense, almost imaginary analysis—the first of its kind—in the form of a portrait of one artist dreamed up by another.
In Search of Pop: From Seductive Beat to Global Ecstasy
by Yann Chateigné Tytelman / Florent Mazzoleni
In this e-mail exchange, Yann Chateigné Tytelman and Florent Mazzoleni discuss what are the stakes of “pop culture” today, extending from art and music to criticism. They address the forms it takes, its economy, its geography and its politics right from the birth of worldwide pop, ranging from the USA to Africa and back again, not overlooking the “French situation.”
Mazzoleni is a writer, journalist and photographer whose publications notably include L’Épopée de la musique africaine (Hors Collection, 2008), Disco (Flammarion, 2007), L’odyssée du rock (Hors Collection 2004) and, more recently Les racines du rock (Hors Collection, 2008).
The Festival of the Tenth Summer
by Lili Reynaud Dewar
In 1986, the Factory and Peter Saville organized the Tenth Summer Festival in Manchester, in honor of the year 1976, the birth date of English punk. Adapted from a lecture given by Lili Reynaud Dewar at CAPC musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux on May 21, 2008, this article discusses the festival and offers a retrospective look at ten years of political, artistic, and social history in northern England, from punk to new wave via Margaret Thatcher and the battle of Orgreave.
Dewar, born in 1976, is an artist and critic who lives and works in Bordeaux. She teaches at the École des beaux-arts there and is represented by the Mary Mary Gallery in Glasgow.