"The exhibit posits Sonic Youth more as an art/media collective than simply as a band — which is probably accurate, though most people know them through their more accessible recordings, of course. But this is closer to how they must see themselves — as the hyphenate legacy of both the Beat and performance art worlds, and the wacky fringes of pop culture — death metal, freaky cults, underground comics, vinyl junkies and the dark side of Madonna and Karen Carpenter. What’s nice about it is the thread that ties together the art world with the pop music world with the Beat poets and a million others — and it stretches through time, backwards, forwards and sideways. It’s also a world of fandom — in a way, Sonic Youth are impresarios presenting the work of others that they love.
I might be imagining it, but it seems to me that in Europe, the mixing of pop culture and high art — as evidenced in this show, put on in a big, state-run museum, as opposed to an alternative art space — is more accepted as an idea than in the US. It could explain why the show originated here, and might only reach the US after traveling elsewhere for a while. Here, it seems that Sonic Youth can be perceived as an arts collective that happens to occasionally make accessible recordings, rather than as a pop band that dabbles in art."