Museum Mixtape is back! For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, museum mixtape pairs a piece/collection of artwork at the Walker Art Center with a song. The collection featured this time is INTERNATIONAL POP, an exhibition that looks at Pop Art as a global movement rather than a strictly American one. It encompasses a staggering diversity of technique and perspective. From Brazil to Japan to Germany, artists react to modernization, westernization, political unrest and the growing importance of mass media. These songs are meant to refract back the themes of this exhibit.
First song up is Eu Te Amo, Te Amo, Te Amo by Roberto Carlos, the Elvis of Brazil. Several references are made to him in the exhibit. He was a celebrity when being a celebrity meant something new with increasing prevalence of media and recording technology. He was the physical manifestation of the cultural influence of the west, as he was so heavily influenced by rock and roll. Many resented these influences as alien and imperialistic. He is at once a saint, a heartthrob, and a symbol of evil.
Autobahn by Kraftwerk has an almost atmospheric feel to it. This is in juxtaposition with its subject matter, the revolutionary German interstate system with no speed limit. This reflects an era of post WWII prosperity and innovation, although innovation was becoming the norm. German works in this exhibition feature smartly dressed businessmen blending into the wallpaper, a woman with the posture and dress of a celebrity descending the stairs with her in motion, her figure blurred. He could be anyone, so could she. The idea of progress is, officially at least, the background and the standard in the West.
Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot’s Ford Mustang use American cultural symbols: Coca Cola, Marilyn Monroe, and of course, the Ford Mustang to create a picture of coolness and fun. It is not a very meaningful song, which reflects how ubiquitous these symbols were. Their ubiquity allowed them to take on many meanings throughout this era. Pinup-style ads were cut up and plastered by British artists to comment on the normalization and commercialization of stylized sexuality. Coke bottles were stenciled with political messages and sent to be refilled in Latin America, and all over people toyed with the idea that reproducing these symbols could in itself be art.