Afraid of Modern Living: World Imitation & Monitor, 1977-1982
Available now is the authorized history of the obscure and influential Los Angeles art and music collective World Imitation Productions (WImP). Emerging as creators of collaged and photocopied mail art and publications in the late 1970s, World Imitation is perhaps best known in its musical incarnation, the band Monitor, which was active between 1978 and 1982, with live performances as well as two self-produced 7" singles and one LP. (The LP was reissued by Superior Viaduct in 2013.)
Afraid of Modern Living: World Imitation & Monitor, 1977-1982, authored by WImP scholar Antonio S. Beecroft, accompanied a successful eponymous exhibition mounted at These Days in downtown Los Angeles in 2017. The initial edition of 100 pocketbook catalogs sold out on opening night. This expanded and enlarged edition draws from an archive of materials that hold up a funhouse mirror to Southern California culture, consumer dystopia, and the late 1970s punk movement.
Rarely seen handmade publications, paintings, sculpture, video, and vintage flyers are featured, along with World Imitation source materials and formative works. The author places World Imitation firmly in its time and place. Growing up in the paranoia and false optimism of mid-century suburban Southern California, the collective explored topics as disparate as exotica, psychedelia, pranks, UFOs, the paranormal, revolutionary politics, and Disneyland as subjects of anthropological research. The resulting mélange, as expressed in their singular sound, images, and various "happenings," was informed by an oddly engaging aesthetic of random and recycled artifice that resonates even today, in the future they deconstructed fifty years ago.
Full-color, 158-page softcover book; 8.25" x 10" portrait. Edition of 500.
Packed with photos and images of artworks, paintings, sculptures, installations, and assorted ephemera, including flyers for shows Monitor performed with the Bags, Germs, Human Hands, Phranc, Johanna Went, 45 Grave, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Lydia Lunch, Bpeople, Suicide, Non and others.
“[The exhibition] could have been mistaken for a mini science museum: Visitors were surrounded by sound installations, videos, wall diagrams, and display cases filled with odd ephemera, all offering a look inside the group’s musical legacy.”—Best of 2017, Artforum Magazine Year in Review