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Negativland @ Nau-haus location 2010 /




                                               Declared heroic by their peers for refashioning culture into what the group considers to be more honest statements, Negativland suggests that refusing to be original, in the traditional sense, is the only way to make art that has any depth within commodity capitalism... 

                                               - NEW YORK TIMES 


                                               It’s an often ignored request, but you may pay more attention to the phrase “Please remember to take all your belongings” after seeing Negativland’s eerily mesmerizing new project… 

                                               - NEWSWEEK 


                                               Negativland isn't just some group of merry pranksters; its art is about tearing apart and reassembling found images to create new ones, in an attempt to make social, political and artistic statements. Hilarious and chilling. 

                                               - THE ONION 


                                               Negativland argues persuasively that creators should be able to appropriate bits and pieces of anything and incorporate them into their work without fear of legal action. 

                                               - UTNE READER 


                                               Negativland, longtime advocates of fair use allowances for pop media collage, are perhaps America's most skilled plunderers  from the detritus of 20th century commercial culture...the band's latest project is razor sharp, microscopically focused, terribly fun and a bit psychotic. 

                                               - WIRED MAGAZINE 


                                               For more than 20 years, Negativland has earned renown for manipulation of both tape and media. 

                                               - LOS ANGELES TIMES 


                                               Collage pioneers.....genre-defying, densely layered, strangely accessible..... 

                                               - WASHINGTON POST 


                                               Negativland…known for their media pranks.... 

                                               - TIME MAGAZINE 


                                               A provocation and a punk-inspired commentary on our mercenary culture…eloquent and impassioned spokesmen for ideas like  a “creative commons”…it’s salutary to see these smart and influential guys get a gallery show. 

                                               - ART IN AMERICA 


                                               Negativland are at it again...a parody of soft drink marketing. 

                                        - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY 


                                               Scathing and entertaining...they believe that the sheer volume of advertising is degrading to the mental and physical environment

                                               - BUSINESS WEEK 


                                               Fearless artistes or foolhardy constantly haranguing the listener with authentic advertising spiel and highlighting its transparency, they kill the messenger, kill the message and produce highly entertaining art simultaneously. 

                                               - L.A. WEEKLY 


                                               Brutally hilarious...a compelling argument for the anti-copyright movement. 

                                               - VILLAGE VOICE 


                                               Twisted genius...compelling.....parody and satire as a grass roots weapon of consumer resistance. 

                                               - ROLLING STONE 




Nau-haus Installation Views

Some History


Death Sentences


Art In America Review 2007: 


                                               Since 1980, the semi-anonymous California collective Negativland has created music, art, video, books and performances using appropriated sounds, images and texts. Its members are especially known for their music and their activism against intellectual property regulations, which they claim stifle creativity. The use of pre-existing material poses questions about copyright law, and  their work generally serves as a provocation and a punk-inspired commentary on our mercenary culture. “Negativlandland,” their   densely installed recent show, lampooned commercial galleries as theme parks: parts of the show were cheerily dubbed noisyland, eBayland, or videoland. Included in the audiovisual riot were videos, paintings, photographs, collages and   assemblages, interactive installations and an iPod listening station.


     Some of the individual pieces included direct and caustic references to a landmark copyright lawsuit involving Negativland’s  music. In 1991, the group released a parody album combining a U2 sample with hilarious and obscene outtakes from Casey  Kasem’s radio show. Island records, representing U2, launched a very damaging lawsuit against Negativland and SST, the     company that published the group’s records, leading SST to sever ties with the band. (The album cover and a book by the group  documenting the affair were on view.)


      From that time on, Negativland’s members have been eloquent and impassioned spokesmen for ideas like a “creative commons”   and broader protections for fair use. Negativland has also been goosing U2 ever since; here, U2 vs. Negativland iPod (version 2G), 2005, a customized version of the popular device, contains Negativland’s discography. It was created by a fan (artist  Patrick Hwang) as an alternate version of the iPod U2 Special Edition, released by Apple in 2004. Further indicating  Negativland’s unrepentant stance, the video No Business (all video works from a 2005 compilation) montages clips of shoplifters  with a soundtrack of Ethel Merman made to sing, “There’s no business like stealing!” Superimposed on images of a boy filching  a candy bar are computer graphics indicating the progress of downloading a file; as a hand grabs the boy’s collar, an error  message appears: Download interrupted.  


      The Mashin’ of the Christ, a montage of movies about the Savior, takes aim at the commercialization of religion: in it, the  endless repetition of conventions of the genre makes the films seem absurd. Similarly poking authority in the eye, in the   installation MightRight (2005), a life-size mechanized Abraham Lincoln dummy speaks rearranged audio samples from a recording made for a Disneyland attraction in 1965 and supplied to Negativland by a company insider, as indicated in a gallery    handout. This “Abe,” like our current commander-in-chief, repeatedly fumbles his speech about faith, might and right.  


       “Deathsentences,” a 2005 series of photographic collages of junked cars and their contents, dominated the entry and one gallery wall. Each piece was a portrait of a smashed automobile alongside a photo of its mundane, poignant or bizarre contents – from  shopping lists to prison love letters. The trashed cars serve as a metaphor for the husk of the market system, taking these bits  of personal expression with them to the crusher.    It’s salutary to see these smart and influential guys get a gallery show. One wonders, though, what would happen if they were to  drop the self-protectively sarcastic punk-rock attitude and infuse their work with the nuance and earnestness they bring to their  discussions of intellectual property.


                                               - Brian Boucher  

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