Kim Gordon’s Body/Head Getty Show: Evocative With No Middle Ground




Kim Gordon - photo by Donna Balancia
Kim Gordon - photo by Donna Balancia
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace - photo by Donna Balancia
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace – photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — Kim Gordon launched free Saturday Nights at the Getty Museum in Kim Gordon style.  And the work of Gordon and her partner in Body/Head was welcomed by a mixed audience of highbrows and fans of the avant-garde.

The audience responded warmly to a performance that covered a range of sound — and geography — as Gordon and Nace roamed the auditory realm and the stage. This was one of those events that evoked appreciation or raised eyebrows with no middle-ground opinion.

Performing in orange light against the projection of a subtitled and looped foreign film clip, Body/Head gave the audience material to reflect upon.  Like where’s the set list.

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace photo by Donna Balancia
Sounds, light, movement and shadow: Kim Gordon – photo by Donna Balancia

Draped in an above-the-knee dress, exposed black bra straps and gold shoes Gordon was conscious of every deliberate move. She climbed on an amplifier, stood on her guitar, kneeled on her guitar and slung it over her shoulder and down her back.

The duo scraped the guitars against the amps, continually adjusted the dials on the amps for tone and volume and feedback, all in the name of creating a range of sound.

While the audience certainly appreciated the avant-garde performance, there were some dissenters.

“It’s amazing what is considered art these days,” said one viewer. But she was apparently in the minority among the audience members who applauded wildly after each of Body/Head’s four musical performances.

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace - photo by Donna Balancia
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace – photo by Donna Balancia

We say “performances” because we’re not quite sure that calling these works “songs” would be accurate.

The collection of emotive sounds generated by the combination of guitars, amplifiers, Gordon’s voice, and various other tones from the two creators on stage were simultaneously pleasing and disturbing.

One observer asked: Was there supposed to be a theme or statement?

If so, our best guess would be the irrelevance of “sophisticated” conversation like the one subtitled in the movie playing behind the duo, as sound like theirs conveys much more. Without words.  And especially words in sentences like “You want a Bloody Mary with Perrier.”

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace - photo by Donna Balancia
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace – photo by Donna Balancia

To those unaware of Gordon’s previous incarnation as Sonic Youth’s cofounder and front woman the event with Body/Head might have seemed composed of random actions. But nothing in Gordon’s repertoire is random.  Improvisation on a scripted performance is more like it.

In any event, the performance was a grand collaboration of two artists, shadows, light, film, movement and sound.