As a young boy growing up in America, it seemed patently obvious that I could be anything I wanted when I grew up, and even though what I wanted continually changed — shifting from fireman to soldier to NFL player and eventually rock star — my parents, and the culture at large, reinforced the maxim of unlimited potential so many times it came to seem as simple as choosing a path and letting fate take over. Decades later I’m still trying to figure it out, of course, but I still think fondly on my childhood as a time when anything seemed possible. A more formal definition of that feeling might be nostalgia. In the show by Matt Zacharias, “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth,” up now at Re:View Contemporary Gallery, that boyhood nostalgia is writ large.
In two of the pieces, “Flip Book, Vol. II (pages 60-95)” and “Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth,” an image of a running man is set over collages of vintage pop culture ephemera, including magazine pages and newspaper clippings. Both of these pieces impart a strong sense of motion and urgency, as the running figure seems to dash through a thick atmosphere of Americana. The urgency in these pieces demands the viewer to ask: where is the figure running to, or what is he running from?
Those questions are not answered, exactly, but they are informed by the piece on the opposite wall, “Rock Star Plan,” which details one child’s inevitable rise to rock stardom, featuring vintage rock images collaged over what appears to be ’70’s-era wallpaper. The piece feels like the bedroom wall of an ambitious American child, and includes a timeline with very specific waypoints on the way to legendary rock star status, including indie-rock fame eventually giving way to major label sell out, then a brief stint at a rehab facility, and eventually the creation of a stripped-down solo album that’s met with effusive critical praise.
The final piece in the show, “C.O. Accessory Kit” — a life-sized GI Joe Conscientious Objector uniform — really must be seen. It turns the nostalgia that permeates the rest of the show on its head, transforming the iconic soldier toy into its bizarre pacifist opposite.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the show, you’re in luck, as Zacharias is speaking at the gallery this Saturday, June 23, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.