The new sound of summer at the Broad: Avant-garde pop and performance mark the museum’s first music series

Performance artist Karen Finley appeared at the Broad museum's Oculus Hall in November 2015 for "The Jackie Look." Now the Broad is launching a new summer series of music and art happenings.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Now that some of the world’s most compelling visual art has found a home inside the Broad, the museum is starting to fill its 50,000-square-foot space with sound.

A monthly string of summer happenings at the downtown institution pairs young sonic innovators with creators working in dance, video and performance art. The newly announced series is a prominent addition to summer music offerings coming out of the region’s art museums.

The aim of the series, called “Nonobject(ive): Summer Happenings at the Broad,” is to animate art pieces from the Broad’s collection through music and performance. Works by Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelley, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others will be used as thematic springboards for evenings of one-off collaborations, concerts and choreographed, cross-discipline interactions. Some of the happenings will take place in the Broad’s outdoor courtyard; others will be inside specific museum galleries.


Highlights of the series, which begins June 25, include the anticipated premiere of new music from Rostam Batmanglij, who co-founded Vampire Weekend and recently relocated to Los Angeles. He performs Aug. 20 on the same bill with Gary, Ind., juke producer Jerrilynn Patton, who as Jlin has built her wild instrumental beat music as a soundtrack for the Chicago-born dance style known as footwork. That same night, composers William Basinski and Preston Wendel present the live performance debut of their new project, Sparkle Division. Los Angeles choreographer Ryan Heffington (Sia, Arcade Fire) also takes over a gallery for a performance in conjunction with dancer-artist Brontez Purnell.

For the Record
May 10, 3:03 p.m.:
An earlier version of this post said Rostam Batmanglij, Jlin and Sparkle Division would perform at the Broad on Aug. 24. They are scheduled to perform Aug. 20.

An evening inspired by the shape-shifting photography of Sherman opens the series. It joins together the songwriter Perfume Genius, legendary 4AD Records artist Cindytalk and the feminist performance artist Narcissister. Similar to the ways in which Sherman remakes herself in her photographs, the Los Angeles collective Mutant Salon plans to restyle visitors’ hair and makeup in a pop-up beauty salon.

The series is co-curated by Brandon Stosuy, director of editorial operations at Pitchfork and co-organizer of the New York festival Basilica SoundScapes, and Bradford Nordeen, whose roving New York club Dirty Looks joins music, performance and film.

Edward Patuto, the Broad’s director of audience engagement, says one of the goals of “Nonobject(ive)” is to place the Broad’s collection in a context. “These pieces of art weren’t created in a vacuum,” he says, citing political, literary and musical interactions that artists experience across disciplines. “Many of the artists you see upstairs either collaborated with musicians or were part of bands. Basquiat was. Keith Haring collaborated with Grace Jones and dancers. Mike Kelley had the Poetics and Destroy All Monsters.”

Patuto, who moved to Los Angeles a few years ago after booking the influential Brooklyn performance space Issue Project Room, adds, “It’s hard to even think about Rauschenberg or Warhol or Jasper Johns without thinking of John Cage.”

The final happening, on Sept. 24, features the British beat producer Sophie soundtracking an evening dedicated to rave and club culture as captured in Andreas Gursky’s massive prints of crowds at raves and concerts. Joining Sophie will be multimedia artist Vessel and avant pop artist Julianna Barwick, who will perform while artist Charles Atlas mixes live video.


There’s a notably East Coast accent to the series, but Patuto stresses that many L.A.-based creators are represented. “We like to mix it up, and I think — as the collection does — put L.A. artists in a broader historical context.”

Specifically, the young composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, who creates music on old Buchla synthesizers, will showcase work from her mesmerizing new album “EARS.” The producer and saxophone player Anenon, who is currently performing monthly site-specific improvisations at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will add jazz-tinged electronic music.

Batmanglij says he’s thrilled to be planning his performance at the Broad. He recently toured the space to visualize the show, which he said would incorporate music, dance and video content.

“For me, performing outdoors always has a special magic to it,” he says. “It does feel like a special event, and a special space.” He’ll be using a string quartet for some of the songs, dancers for others, and is making content for video screens.

Asked about premiering his first new music since departing Vampire Weekend, Batmanglij was coy. “I think there will be some new music, but I don’t want to reveal too much. Certainly some music that’s never been performed before — and possibly never been heard before, too.”



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