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Thoughts on Kim Gordon and the notion of 'selling out'

February 9, 2009 |  7:55 pm

Kimgordon The climate at the Museum of Contemporary Art has been, shall we say, touch and go for quite some time now but they've pulled in a neat score for Valentine's Day, a performance from longtime sweethearts Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. The Sonic Youth fuzz-lovers will be playing at the members-only opening for the museum's upcoming Dan Graham exhibition (Feb. 15-May 25), according to our sister blog Culture Monster. Not a member? A sliver of hope from the Monster's Lisa Fung:

"If you’re too cheap to support the museum with an actual membership but want to hear Moore and Gordon, there’s a tiny chance you can still snag a ticket to the sold-out artist talk Feb. 15, when they appear with the artist, as well as Bennett Simpson, MOCA's associate curator and co-curator of the exhibition. For those wondering about the connection: Graham has collaborated with Sonic Youth on his art projects."

Sonic Youth has always liked its collaborations (they roll deep with Paul McCarthy and several other art stars) but the latest deal between Gordon and Urban Outfitters has gotten a few blogs peevishly reviving a distinctly '90s lambaste. Pitchfork wrote today in an item, "Get ready for another fun round of accusatory blog posts and defensive interview quotes: Sonic Youth are selling out again!"

So what's the big "sell out"? It's Gordon debuting Mirror/Dash, a new fashion line that launched last September but will be revealed in full at the indie-styled clothing shop Feb. 16. Designed with help from friends Melinda Wansbrough and Jeffrey Monteiro, Gordon describes the line in an interview with the New York Times as "a little less trend oriented, a little more classic, that might appeal to someone, say, who used to shop at Urban [Outfitters] but wants something slightly less young looking."

Perhaps some of the uneasiness the Pitchfork blogger alludes to is based in Urban Outfitters' own confused history with fashion and political statements. The company pulled the popular kaffiyeh scarf from the shelves in 2007 because of the "sensitive nature" of the item, and more recently, they yanked a T-shirt with the message "I Support Same Sex Marriage." But more to the direct interest of Gordon and many of her fans is that Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Haynes is a Republican who has donated money, according to Philadelphia Weekly, to former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and his political action committee. Talk about a confounding portrait of an American business leader -- Haynes is building left-leaning hipster culture and taking in monster income, only to turn at least some of it over to the conservative machine. And you thought Dov Charney was a complex man.

Of course, these kinds of complexities are rife in everyday life, in our jobs, the cars we drive and clothes we wear. Gordon can't be held responsible for how Haynes may spend his money. But is it especially excusable, given the current economic climate? When Neil Portnow uses prime-time TV to recommend that President Obama create a secretary of the Arts position, can we blame beleaguered artists for turning toward corporate entities to make a buck? Is now the time for more understanding of these particular sacrifices or is it the time to be extra-vigilant?

--Margaret Wappler

Photo: Kim Gordon at Coachella last year. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images