Green Day art show: Criticism, media coverage and curation (2009)

During the excitement around the show in London last month, thoughtful criticism emerged about the project in relation to the journalistically processed publicity. But since, the lead writer admits, "I’ve been dragging my butt publishing this one."

Delfina , R.J. Preece (ADP)
Art Design Publicity at ADC | 23 November 2009

Green Day art show: Criticism, media coverage and curation

(R.J. Preece—) The Green Day art project remains an important reference point. Why? First, it’s a fascinating case study in what was done across the musicians, visual artists, public/media relations, and journalistic outputs. Second, the elements open art to a new and rather interesting art audience for us here. Structurally, it may have elements that are applicable to building new middle-class art customers and audiences. Third, structurally, who knows, it might possibly contain the historical elements of Damien Hirst’s landmark Freeze exhibition (1988). Whether it was this show, or one to come, or this is totally off the mark, has yet to be determined.

green day art show
From Green Day art show: (Left) Broken Crow. Prosperity, 2009. Inspired by Green Day’s Song of the century. Spray paint and acrylic on masonite. 30 x 30 in. (Right) Chris Stain. East Jesus Nowhere, 2009. Inspired by the Green Day song with the same name. Hand-cut stencil and hand-painted aerosol on a metal street sign. 30 x 30 in.

Within this ADP excitement and while the show was up, Delfina—a Green Day fan and trained in fine art—was firing off emails to me very confused about quotes by the show’s curator in the media coverage. I shared my confusion, but recall replying, "Well, we just don’t know." Quotes in the media can be what someone said and meant; what someone said but didn’t necessarily mean; sometimes proposed by PRs for a press release and accepted by the "speaker"; sometimes PRs and journos make mistakes with specific accuracies of statements in their fast-paced workflows; sometimes a sub-editor or editor adjust the text meeting a deadline; etc. Really anything can happen with a range of... text surfaces. Factor in all the people making decisions involved in any project, plus the responses by the participating artists, it wasn’t clear to me if the inspiration for the artworks came from only the lyrics or the music as well, or if there was a mixed approach.

Personally, my core interest in the show is the general concept of it empowering the artists—via a somewhat modified, new kind of outlet and partnership—and the interaction with a new kind of audience. But yes, I thought Delfina’s questions were important.

So I said to Delfina: put together your questions and I’ll send them after the show, after the artists have sold their work (presumably), and we’ll try to find out and make it an article.

Green Day art show: Questions from Delfina

Re: Art exhibit inspired by Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown.

Logan Hicks, the exhibit’s curator, was quoted as saying that he was only interested in the songs’ lyrics.

"I wanted the piece to be a response to the lyrics, not the music... I just feel that sometimes the music can skew the perception of the song... I wanted them to focus on the content, not the presentation, so it was a truer interpretation of the song."

It’s stunning to me that an artist could think of a song’s music as a distraction. The music is the soul of any song.

And the lyrics are "the content" while the music is "the presentation"? This is coming from a visual artist? Would he also then say that the content of visual art is found in the literal meaning of an image? And the visual aspect is what, then? Just decoration?

There’s a tendency in our society to be suspicious of artist-created experiences that don’t rely on words to explain themselves. Instead of experiencing art or music on its own terms, we reach for a literal explanation, unwilling to trust what we see and hear. The public’s lack of visual and musical literacy is what allows advertisers to manipulate us: we buy into the words, while the images and sounds stealthily tug at our emotions, their power unacknowledged.

To experience visual art, you have to look at it, and to experience a song you have to hear it. Surely an artist like Hicks knows this, and is able to make the leap that what applies to understanding visual images also applies to music?

Logan Hicks declined our request to respond to these questions—twice.


He did initially reply at length to a short email requesting if he’d be interested in replying to the questions. We’d be willing to reprint that email here for readers, but we haven’t asked or received permission regarding the correspondence.

Three points however: there was an initial misunderstanding. It was thought we were requesting quotes to add onto the Green Day song-and-artwork compare contrast article, which was not the case at all.

Second, it was suggested that a reply would have been possible. But to paraphrase three paragraphs, apparently our reviewers, including myself, were behaving quite badly.

Third, much to our amusement, it was suggested that we were looking to drudge up a few last minute hits to our website...


Sorry, but we just wanted to know more... whatever the answer was.

So, in the spirit of rock ’n’ roll publicity, we offer the following announcement...

Click on the music to get the full effect.

Editorial clarification

Dear readers and publicity seekers,

Art Design Publicity is a punk-zine. We are not a fan-zine.

We are NOT Entertainment Tonight. We are certainly NOT

We offer our critical views—we like some things, not others, and we encourage all to make their own informed decisions.

This of course has its benefits. As informed by UK art historian Julian Stallabrass, author of the influential High Art Lite, "A certain critique, salt, in the discussion is good".

Whatever the answers, we still support the initiative 110%.

We greatly look forward to new Punk-inspired music+art projects, the publicity around the projects, and Punk-inspired writing. We want this not just for the people directly benefiting from the landmark project. We want this to become a kind of third channel of Punk power and energy on offer for our international art community.

Otherwise it all runs the risk of being Entertainment Tonight repackaged into more "Alienation Incorporated"—when so much more can be beautifully achieved.

Green Day art show at artdesigncafe

Pat Magnarella, Green Day manager - interview (2009): 1 | Green Day art show: Compare & contrast (2009): 2 | Green Day art show: Criticism, media coverage and curation (2009): 3