Every 5 years or so the guitar needs to be killed. Green did it. Thompson did it. Levine did it. VanHalen did it. O'Rourke did it. Fahey's been dead for 6 years and they're still finding the bodies. Usually though, we don't actually get to witness the crime. It happens behind the closed door of a recording studio, a rehearsal space, or a bedroom. That's not the case in one of the most compelling works I've seen recently, Christian Marclay's Guitar Drag
from 2000. It's in the superlative Organizing Chaos
group show at PS1.
This one piece is worth the trip to Queens. Marclay plugs a guitar into an amp, ropes it to the back of a pick-up, and takes off down (and sometimes off) a rural road. The sound that ensues is fabulous. The full-bodied shriek of the Fender chases the camera down the road, swaying and sliding from side to side. The visuals are a hot rush of motion coming at--and seemingly past--the viewer. In this sublime work, death has never looked--or sounded--so good. Let the power fall, all over again.