The New Museum of
Contemporary Art 1996
The New Museum of
The New Museum of
Donna D. from
Teenagers in their
Angry Youth Comix
at the new museum
by Paul H-O
Th.Kds.R.Alrgt. When the United States
weren't but a British colony a rabble-
rouser named Thomas Paine wrote and
published a pamphlet entitled Common Sense
that denounced the King of England and
ruthlessly questioned the arcane political
jurisdiction of the monarchy. The people
didn't have magazines or TV but anyone that
could string sentences could publish
pissed-off prose and eventually be a big
part in kicking ass on the nancyboy
British. And do it with no money. It was a
garage laboratory and a start-up deal that
resonates with "the only way to do
something right is to do it yourself."
The impulse to speak out against the king
lives on today. More or less what the New
Museum has done here is identify a cultural
happening and dutifully collect a surfeit
of evidence testifying to it. The
exhibition entitled "alt.youth.media" is a
superabundance of home-made audio-visual
output. Every kind of recognizable media
created by pre-teens up into the 20s is
manifested in the form of music, video, CD
ROMs, installations, Web sites, e-zines, and
the rulers of the show, zines--homemade
xeroxed collaged and self-published
underground magazines. The video component
of the show is heavy on the social
conscience as are the (non-music)
audiotapes, like a blend of NPR radio meets
Rikki Lake. If anything in the show looks
slick (like the installation, which is very
multimedia and participatory and has the
vapor trail of artist Judith Barry all over
it though she says she just provided
suggestions) or expensive there is probably
an adult behind it so don't be fooled.
The media art phenomena known as zines
dominates the exhibition because they're
clearly the most complete method of
expression at it's wildest. Anything goes.
Teen feminists, werewolves, gayphernalia,
Africana, diarrhea, whatever! If you have
any doubt then read these titles:
Adversaria, published by a 14-year-old from
Ain't Nothin' Like Fuckin' Moonshine and
Soft Smooth Brain, both from San Francisco.
Bowel Movement Quarterly, a Pennsylvania
Borelando, a highschooler adventure from
Crap Hound, thematic clip-art from Oregon.
Farm Pulp, anti-christianity kids from
Fierce Vagina, a personal female rant,
Frank Jasper and Me, refrigerator poetry,
Palo Alto, Ca.
Hello My Name Is..., specializing in tagged
panel trucks, San Francisco.
Plus, Hungry Freaks, I'm Over Being Dead,
J Cruelty Catalog, Jesus, Jism and Spaghetti,
Moon Fuzz, My Last Nerve, Pretty in Punk,
R.I.P., Speed Co., Temp Slave, Urinal
Cornea, and this is just 20 percent of the
featured zines. Nothing escapes the zine
freaks and that includes politics.
In all fairness the task of subjecting the
artistic and documentary output is beyond
my journalistic interest. Its too much.
Really, you could overdose and die if you
tried to absorb thousands of these
mediabotics. Not me, uh uh.
On overview this exhibition of youth
culture can be grasped as a physical idea
or social phenomena, yet actually diving
into this jello pool of media is a broad
and insanely jiggly undertaking. Grasp is
the key word. If you are over 30 you can
only peer into the mirror these artists
hold up. If you want to know who is going
to put you into the euthanasium, here they
are. From Baby Boomer to the Uncontrollable
Brain By-products Ubiquity Brigade!
Pure raucous graffiti potential could have
put this exhibition over the top, but a
calmer museum mentality prevails.
While one can sympathize with the intent
and the ambitious effort involved with
curatorial design of overwhelming material
glut, the show is a bit unnaturally
mature and overly organized, with zines
lined up on the wall instead of in racks
and the DJs lodged in a room behind glass.
It's got what you could call academitus
syndrome, a public service announcement
that lacks true grit.
The zine art, the vids, the music, is
frankly beyond critique. It is simply
astounding. It's disgusting and putrid.
It's intelligent and hilarious. It oozes
with visceral life and twisted beauty. The
art is a rave. These are the children of
the new century and they are adults within
the temporal present.
alt.youth.media at The New Museum
583 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
September 6 - November 5, 1996
PAUL H-O is a New York artist and producer
of Art TV Gallery Beat.
LIST OF E-ZINES:
10 Things Jesus Wants You to Know is
the online version of the popular Seattle
all.ages.show is produced by a U. of Ga.
student and offers two main topics: Rant
(cereal commercials, Scooby Doo, the
Atlanta Olympics) and music reviews.
b-grrrl is a skateboardin', feminist, hip-
hop zine from Melbourne, featuring women
bodybuilders, articles on graffiti and
notes on shopping with parents.
BlOOdY WanKEr is a fantastic resource for
info on the New York punk scene with
extensive indexes on comics, music venues,
bands and more.
Bunnyhop is the cyberversion of a print
zine; the current issue, Soft and Fluffy,
is number 7.
Catnip Dreams features a section on
snowboarding and articles like "Fun at K-
Mart," "No More Baggy Pants in School" and
Emily's Nest, an endearing homepage from a
14-year-old deaf girl, includes an
introduction to her dog, Mac, who knows
Exile Webzine includes the politically
minded article "Voting in Self Defense," a
punk view in "You're not punk and I'm
telling everyone" and a happy-go-lucky
attitude in "Keeping Yourself Amused."
geekgirl is a tech-filled e-zine from
Australia, exploring everything from Kathy
Acker to cryptography to Las Vegas. It's
also published on paper.
GrrlZine #1 explores grrl fashion with
articles on Calvin Klein ads, Doc Martins
and girl designers while #2 gives the scoop
Jonas is an impressive high-school e-zine
that offers a teen's journal entries, an
article about behaving badly at an eighth-
grade overnight party, wacky mail
excursions and news from around the world.
the lizard king's lair is a Web page
from the lizard king, a sophomore at Nauset
Regional High School on Cape Cod, including
music pics, a rant on the death of punk and
ramblings on technology.
Mimi's Page, one of the best comic
displays online, is beautifully rendered,
well written and gives an insightful look
at personal experiences from high school.
She also produces Borelando, a paper zine.
NrrdGrrl!, a site for "women from around
the world who think, talk and act for
themselves," includes an e-zine, Grrowl!,
that includes the articles "I Hate Pink,"
"Watching Miss America" and a fan-mail
section called "Toothmarks."
Oasis is produced by Youth Action Online
and features sections for and by gay youth,
including profiles in courage, coming-out
stories, fiction, poetry and a series of
paintings chronicling the life of a gay
Ooze, a well-designed, easy to navigate and
very readable e-zine, includes articles
like "Fashion Tips for the Very Poor" and
"So You Think You're a Vampire."
Rant features silly stories and personal
rants on Chia pets, speeding tickets, car
air fresheners and more.
Ratgrrl's Hideout offers a mix of
feminist viewpoints, references to
classical children's books and quotes from
rock lyrics, plus "The Academy," which
includes well-researched papers on topics
like copyright in cyberspace.
Spank!, which originates in Canada, has
fantastic graphics and "DogFest 96," a
celebration of the world's worst video.
Speedmeter is a "zine about River Falls,
Wisc., and the phreaks who live there."
y0lk, "an open zine for everyone," has
stories of the youth experience in a slang-
filled, stream-of-consciousness style.
A Year in the Life of a Nerd has
journal entries with a humorous bent from
the senior year of a self-proclaimed nerd.
gURL, the collaborative effort of nine
women in the Interactive Telecommunications
Program at NYU, is an intelligent, playful
Web site for girls.