Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1974-1977
The influential Detroit “anti-rock” group Destroy All Monsters (Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, Jim Shaw) made raucous music, irreverent art and legendary zines, performing and disseminating their activities through an elaborate self-mythology. The Destroy All Monsters zines have been reprinted in facsimile editions, but the art objects made by the members have never been examined as independent works.
“Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1974-1977” is the first retrospective of the artwork itself, as well as a DAM overview. Produced in collaboration with the artists, it collects the work of the collective between circa 1973-77, almost all of which is previously unpublished. Included are dozens of candid photographs of the group and their environs by DAM member Cary Loren, which serve as both documents of a proto-punk group at its height and snapshots of the collective’s often hilarious attempts to construct identities as characters in the larger Destroy All Monsters mythology; early prints and drawings by Jim Shaw that show the seeds of his later work, and remain powerful images; a voluminous quantity of drawings and etching by Mike Kelley, often of monsters and political personalities, that indicate the artist’s anarchic roots; and hitherto unseen drawings and prints by Niagara that show the heady imagination and sure-footed line that would continue to serve her well.
This full color, 312-page catalog was made to accompany the “Return of the Repressed show at PRISM in Los Angeles. The show includes over 150 drawings, photographs, prints, collages and paintings produced by the original members of Destroy All Monsters (Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, and Jim Shaw) in the depths of post-hippy, pre-punk Detroit. Destroy All Monsters was unique for having produced a distinct body of multi-media work while documenting itself in the act of its own creation. The themes of the work span grotesque figuration, ecstatic pop imagism, apocalyptic play-acting, gothic dreamscapes, and full-on horror.