US Artist’s old school multimedia vinyl shop opens to the public
From NYC, through Liverpool, and Derry, Never Records has finally arrived here in London. Having given musical Londoners a three-week window of opportunity to cut their own record (and, yes, I actually mean ‘cut’, on an old-school record lathe) at a pop-up recording studio in an abandoned premises on Southwark Street, the artist Ted Riederer is now leaving the doors open for everybody – even the musically-challenged amongst us – to go and have a look at the produce. By giving one copy of the new records to the musicians themselves, and keeping another for the shelves of the Never Record store, Riederer’s not-for-profit mock shop is now positively bulging with a miscellany of music – from Philip Glass-esque electronic minimalism, to Motor Head-style street punk.
While listening to the records, the visitor is also invited to peruse various visual artworks on display such as: a poem of Riederer’s, made by blacking-out record sleeves to highlight individual words or discrete phrases, arranged like fridge poetry, and read by flicking through the records on the shelf; t-shirts’s designed and hand-made by the man oft-described as the fifth member of The Ramones, and the designer of their iconic eagle logo, Arturo Vega; or hand-painted dollars hidden inside the cash register by artist Chris Yerrington.
So what does it all mean? According to Ted Riederer, Never Records is, in part, a re-envisioning of the work of Alan Lomax, the great field collector of folk music in the 20th century, who battled against the decline of the folk arts that he detected with the growth of the city. Today, the menace that Riederer identifies is disintegration of ‘real community’ via the internet and its cyber associates. Riederer is suffering from – and in this, he argues, he is not alone – what he describes as ‘virtual community fatigue’: Never Records is his response – a courageous effort to create ‘real community’ and thereby to ‘re-enchant the world’.
Thus, for Riederer, Never Records takes on the proportions of a political and social project, a dimension which is aptly highlighted by the stock design for the Never Record sleeves – a doctored photograph from the Arab Spring, with protestors hurling records rather than rocks. But, to the credit of Riederer, the work avoids that excessively worthy feel that plagues so much political art. In the end, Never Records is simply ‘a really magical thing that needs to keep going’, an infectious ‘swirling mess of fun and love’. Words: Thomas Keane Photo: Paul Carter Robinson © 2011 ArtLyst
Merge Festival Bankside
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