Destroy All Monsters Survey Opens at White Flag Projects This Weekend

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On Saturday night, a very cool exhibit is set to open at White Flag Projects. Destroy All Monsters: Hungry for Death is billed as "a survey of survey of artwork, music, video, and archival material by the seminal pre-punk/psychedelic noise group and art collective Destroy All Monsters." Founded in 1973 in Detroit Ann Arbor, the original collective included Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Jim Shaw and front woman Niagara. (Her website says Debbie Harry, Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde "borrowed from the Niagara punk prototype.") By the late '70s, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and MC5 bassist Michael Davis were in the group, which found some success in the punk world before dissolving in 1985. The original DAM lineup reformed in 1995 and various incarnations of it has been doing occasional concerts, art shows and releasing albums since.

Music, of course, is part of the exhibit, according to White Flags director Matthew Strauss.

A new DAM album, Double Sextet (recorded in 1975 but released to the general public only now) is available, as is the 3-CD collection Destroy All Monsters 1974-1976, which Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and NYC critic/author Byron Coley originally released in 1995 on Moore's label, Ecstatic Peace.

Strauss first heard about Hungry for Death earlier this year, when it was on display at the New York art space Printed Matter. He says that's also "where the conversation started about bringing it to St. Louis.

"I don't think that a lot of people get that White Flag's mission isn't to champion a particular aesthetic or view of contemporary art, but to identify different things that seem relevant to what's going on in the larger discourse and that are at the same time never going to get to St. Louis any other way," Strauss says.

"When you think about how influential DAM has been to so much art rock, and performance art in general, and then you have a chance to get that here, it's not something that I had to think too hard about," he continues. "'Music people' I think are into it, but honestly I've been a little surprised at how many 'art people' that I've told about this have no idea who I'm talking about -- [and] DAM were in the Whitney Biennial just a few times ago -- but hopefully the people that know about DAM will fill in the people that don't. It's going to be very cool either way."

Hungry for Death's opening is Saturday, September 19, from 7 to 10 p.m. A conversation with curators James Hoff and Cary Loren is set for Sunday, September 20, at 2 p.m. The exhibit runs through October 24.

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