Artist-Musicians, Musician-Artists

6 Art (School) Pop

Since the turn of the millennium, there are still artists and musicians who operate simultaneously in different fields and whose work defies categorization as either art or music because they plan their works from the very beginning to be multimedial and interdisciplinary. This group includes Ryoichi Kurokawa, who perceives his audiovisual performances such as Parallel Head (2008) and Rheo (2009) as time-based sculptures, and Michaela Melián. As a trained musician and fine artist as well as founding member of the band Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (F.S.K.), the latter incorporates her own compositions as an integral component of her spatial installations such as Panorama II (2004) and Föhrenwald (Pine Forest; 2005). The simultaneous autonomy of these soundtracks is shown by the fact that both were later released as CDs to a positive reception in the music press.[20]

At the same time, in the pop music scene of recent years, in particular, the dual profession of artist-musician/musician-artist is no longer anything of note. Irrespective of autonomous decisions by artists/musicians, PR strategies demonstrate how an artist or musician’s own cultural product can benefit from the adaptation of the respective other system. By giving something the label art or pop, it is possible to generate symbolic and, as a result, commercial capital.

In recent times, in particular, the definition Art School has been increasingly used as a predicate in the music business. In the promotion of Franz Ferdinand, the fact that they are an art-school band from Glasgow was publicized from the very beginning. Their clips with art-history references and an exhibition opening as the setting (Do You Want To) reinforce this image. On the other hand, art schools, for example St. Martins College in London, use famous graduates such as pop stars who studied at their institute as a means of promotion. Not only PJ Harvey, Sade, and Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), but also the successful British dance-music producer M.I.A., all graduated from this school. Even the eccentric cover that the latter designed herself indicates that she has a degree in art. She was nominated for the Alternative Turner Prize in 2001.

Apart from any kind of marketing-strategy considerations, it seems that in particular those musicians who have chosen to study art have sought to break new ground in pop music. For in comparison to other cultural disciplines, a particularly integrative and experimental system has developed in the fine arts, which have embraced a broad variety of cultural activities: film and video, sound art, and, last but not least, pop music.

The soundtracks Baden-Baden and Los Angeles were released on Monika Records, the label of Gudrun Gut, a former student of the Hochschule der Künste (art academy) and member of the bands Mania D and Malaria.