This bold collection, honoring Andy Warhol for the occasion of his 84th birthday, is, like Warholâ€™s art, precisely conceived and executed while often raising as many questions as it answers. Based on his â€œIn the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutesâ€ dictum, producers Jeff Gordon and Path Soong assembled an estimable collection of artists to pay tribute, each giving a sound piece (spoken word or music) and a silkscreen. But, as with a sprawling set like this, the line between artistic merit and self-indulgence is thin.
Many of the audio contributions are reminiscences on Warhol, his art, or his entourage. In the case of his first dealer, Ivan Karp, concision and humor allow an anecdote about Warhol not wanting to â€œdripâ€ like Pollock to illuminate the struggle the artist was facing as he sought to break new ground with his Pop aesthetic. Similarly, the disc-long conversation between Brigid Berlin and Vincent Fremont is completely engaging, with a pervasive warmth between both the participants as well as among their reminiscences of their time at The Factory. On the other hand, photographer Christopher Makos ambles through a maddening,15-minute-long monologue that simultaneously insults the people who might be buying this set (â€œthey like name-droppingâ€) yet demonstrates his own descent from bohemian to bourgeoisie, as he marvels over Patti Smith and Bob Dylan as co-participants before moving on to his love of Whole Foods.
Though somehow, this makes sense. The ideal of â€œbe yourself, let it out, see what sticksâ€ resonated throughout all of Warholâ€™s art; the undisguised pursuit of fame and financial success always underlay the artier leanings of Warhol and his entourage. That the artist encouraged his friends and collaborators to live as if living itself was art, and to constantly document it, relates to many of the other spoken word pieces in the set. Patti Smithâ€™s â€œEdie,â€ a tribute to the late Ms. Sedgwick, shows just what an impact the world of The Factory had on the art and music world. Predictably, most of the music and sound collage-themed pieces are a challenging listen. But, for listeners who are inclined toward the difficult, there are rewards to be found in the minimalist iterations of Jeff Gordonâ€™s â€œUh Yes Uh Noâ€ and Ultra Violetâ€™s â€œLight.â€ The best piece, though, is JohnÂ Giornoâ€™s poem, â€œThanks For Nothing.â€ It has the name-dropping that Makos thinks listeners want, but is a touching, telling tribute to Warholâ€™s impact on everyone he came into contact with.