Record as Art at Art Basel

Any vinyl aficionado knows that it’s no stretch of the imagination to consider the Vinyl Record as art. From the large-form packaging, to the myriad tints and swirls of color possible on pressings, to the actual sound held within the grooves, record albums offer a lovely mixed media opportunity for expression. A recent article on discusses an annual artist’s record pop-up shop called Art Records found at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

What was the inspiration
for the idea behind Art Records?

As a 20th century artifact, the
vinyl record is heavy with symbolism, and various of its features have prompted
a host of artists to employ it as an artistic medium: its comparatively
inexpensive production costs, ease of distribution, and undeniable conceptual
qualities. In the first show, the decision to present works by only a very few
artists was aimed at generating a more systematic interpretation of these
various themes and illustrating that artists exploit every single aspect of the
vinyl disc – from recording possibilities to covers, from pressing to printing,
from audio to visual.

Can you give some specific
examples of how artists have used the vinyl record in different genres of

A case in point was, for instance,
the series of nine 45 rpm records created by Jack Goldstein in 1976 on the basis
of sound effects used by Hollywood film studios: the wind dying away (“Dying
Wind”), the crash of falling trees (“Three Felled Trees”), and the roar of a
tornado (“The Tornado”) are early attempts at Appropriation art. Christian
Marclay explores the various qualities of the platter-shaped object in his
famous “Record without a Cover” (a sleeveless record that develops individually
as it is subjected to wear), one-sided records, records with spiral grooves, or
with the help of pick-ups repositioned on the turntable. Rodney Graham’s dual
focus on music and films since the 1970s has had a very productive effect on his
record productions: the pieces he composes and plays slot into the narrative
world of his visual work. For Jutta Koether, as for Steven Parrino, with whom
she has frequently collaborated in concert and on record, rock music is likewise
inseparably connected with the painting, film, and installation work – different
techniques whose mutual enrichment is the linchpin in a relationship to the
world. Genesis P-Orridge embodies the musical side of this relationship: amid
the radical cultural movements of 1960s and ‘70s Britain, he founded a
performance group, Coum Transmissions, subsequently enjoying a successful career
in the punk-rock scene with Throbbing Gristle and later with Psychic TV. In the
1990s, many artists turned to electronic music as a supplementary, parallel, or
principal form of artistic production: for example, Carsten Nicolai, whose
Raster-Noton label is a very active arena for electronic minimalism, uses
processed digital sounds to compose works that are equally effective as
sculptures and installations in questioning the creative potential of the codes
that surround us.

What types of works are in
this year’s Artists Records exhibit?

After this initial exhibition we
continued to develop relationships with contemporary producers, collectors, and
sellers, and built this unique resource as a “pop-up” shop that only exists for
a week in the Basel art fair. So now we have hundreds and hundreds of artist’s
records, tapes, CDs, etc. It goes from Yves Klein’s recording of the void to New
Humans’ latest releases, passing through Marclay’s, Yoko Ono’s, or Cage’s famous
records, but as well Tobias Bernstrup’s, the whole program of Christmas music by
Villa Magica Records, and so many other things.