The influence that the Beastie Boys have had on hip hop, rock n’ roll, and popular culture over the last few decades is undeniable. Whether loved or hated, they were recognized as leaders of a movement. When news broke that Adam “MCA” Yauch had lost his battle with cancer, we all mourned. The following weekend, an unmistakably somber cloud hung over the closing of Beastie Boy, Mike D’s curated exhibition, Transmission LA: AV Club at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary.
The 17-day residency began loudly with a bustling evening schedule of live music performances kicked off by Santigold and had a successful run, with more than 30,000 people ultimately attending. But last weekend, visitors were quiet, pensive, seeking an answer of sorts from the exhibit to why a musical talent like Yauch had died so young and so full of talent.
The exhibit itself could be described as young. It relied heavily on contemporary musical influences, incorporating free evening performances from the likes of Santigold, DJ Z-Trip, Peanut Butter Wolf, and Diplo, and exhibited artists closely associated with the Los Angeles and New York music scenes.
Mike D’s curatorial choices were as deliberate as they were diverse; he seemed determined to assert that, as in his own music, committing to a single taste or style risks stagnancy. The exhibit included work by Mike Mills, perhaps best known for his work as a music video director, but at MOCA, appreciated for his work as a graphic artist, illustrations by Sage Vaughn, and multimedia and video art installations from the likes of Takashi Murata and Cory Arcangel. There was even a residency within a residency, curated by Lauren Meckler of Public Fiction–an art space located in Northeast LA.The Geffen seemed to vibrate with musicality; they were all there, the artists and performers this contemporary AV Club–each one a part of an unspoken alliance against the tendency towards formal, hushed art galleries and marble museums and each living proof that young talent will carry on, even with the loss of one of their own.