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October 5, 2013
Chris Forsyth
with Seth Kim-Cohen

Please join us for Chris Forsyth’s Never Meant to Change the World (Cocksucker Blues). Forsyth has composed an original soundtrack (for electric guitar, looper, harmonica) to the controversial, celebrated, and unreleased Robert Frank film about the Rolling Stones’s 1972 US tour. The film was banned from being screened by court order without Frank’s presence, due to the incriminating nature of the footage. Forsyth’s piece incorporates degraded bootleg footage of the film alongside his own live musical ruminations- transforming this 1972 filmic artifact into a contemporary reflection on the cultural legacy of rock and roll.

After Frank’s pivotal photographic book The Americans, The Stones collaborated with Robert Frank by using one of his photographs for the cover of Exile on Main Street. With the record’s success they asked the photographer to travel along on tour to make a film about the album’s supporting concerts. Frank’s only demands were that the band gave him all-access exposure to their lives during the tour and made several cameras available so that any member of the entourage could contribute footage. The resulting footage, a masterwork in observational cinema, surveyed everything from groupie heroin use to Mick Jagger’s masturbation within the ecstatic and frantic cultural framework of the era.

The years following the 1972 tour had many false starts to complete editing on the piece. And famously upon its completion, the film was subsequently censored by American courts and nearly lost to history. The film’s troublesome portrayal of the human body: as a vehicle for drugs, sex, and excess, confirmed many of the extreme lifestyle stereotypes attacked during the era’s culture wars. But despite it’s limited circulation and continued stringent exhibition restrictions, its impact via bootleg culture has made it one of the most celebrated rock and roll films ever made.

Despite the explosive trajectory of the Rolling Stone’s career, the film highlights that their touring lifestyle was directionless, stuttering, and circular. Forsyth’s roaming free rock is a powerful vehicle to explore this warped sense of time. Using his guitar as a conduit between this loaded history and our present musical moment, Forsyth will reanimate the past and reflect on the vacancy of hippiedom, the misplaced ideals of a generation, and the contrived cool of the Rolling Stones.


Guitarist Chris Forsyth’s hypnotic compositions assimilate art rock texture with folk, blues, and experimental influences. Long active in the underground/experimental scene, he’s released a series of acclaimed records over the past few years, including his 2011 LP Paranoid Cat on Family Vineyard and Early Astral, a 2012 duo LP with Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp on Blackest Rainbow. His 2012 Kenzo Deluxe LP/CD on Northern Spy has been described as “resonant [and] incisive… a cosmic abstraction of the American guitar tradition, reducing blues, rock, folk and improvisation into their spare, hypnotic base elements.” (Philadelphis City Paper). Forsyth has toured throughout Europe and the US, sharing stages with such like-minded artists as Steve Gunn, Bill Orcutt, Sic Alps, Grouper, PG Six, Loren Connors, Mind Over Mirrors, Rhys Chatham, and Träd Gräs och Stenar, and, from 2002 to 2011, as a member of Peeesseye. He has also collaborated with artists including Meg Baird, Tetuzi Akiyama, Mike Pride, and Nate Wooley. Forsyth was awarded a 2011 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and resides in the City of Philadelphia, USA.


with special guest:
SETH KIM-COHEN: Rock and Roll Lecture No. 1

Seth Kim-Cohen is an artist, musician, and critic. He makes as little distinction between these practices as he can get away with. His work leverages music as a cultural signifier to interrogate our social, economic, and political assumptions. He has presented work at venues spanning the cultural spectrum, from CBGBs, the 100 Club, Maxwell’s, and Lounge Ax, to Tate Modern, The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Singapore Biennial. Kim-Cohen’s 2012 solo exhibition, Tomorrow Is The Question? Is The Question!, at Audio Visual Arts in New York, was described in Artforum as “collegial and awkward, a real-life mistake framed by a semifictitious context… an allegory for experimental thinking in general.” Kim-Cohen has published two books, In The Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art (Continuum 2009), which Christoph Cox has called “a landmark book with which any future theory of the sonic arts will need to contend;” and One Reason To Live: Conversations About Music (Errant Bodies 2006). His new e-book, Against Ambience, will be published by Bloomsbury in late-2013. In the 1990s, he founded the rock bands Number One Cup and The Fire Show, releasing seven full-length albums and performing throughout North America and Europe. He was briefly quadriplegic and John Peel once bought him a beer. Kim-Cohen received his PhD in the Philosophy of Art from the London Consortium, University of London. He has taught at Yale, Pratt, and IDSVA. He is currently a Full-Time Visiting Artist at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Chris Forsyth: Never Meant to Change the World
October 5, 2013 @ 8:00 pm
October 5, 2013 @ 11:00 pm
319 N 11th Street, Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107 United States