“The way Gordon talks about the L.A. of her youth conjures the bleached-out, diffuse brutality of the city as portrayed in Joan Didion’s classic collection The White Album. ‘I remember when we were young, playing on these huge dirt mounds that became freeway on-ramps,’ Gordon says. ‘And my mom pointing to Century City, saying, “There’s going to be a city there.” I have a lot of nostalgia for Los Angeles at a certain time—just the landscape, before it was overgrown with bad stucco and mini malls and bad plastic surgery. It wasn’t like I was happy. I don’t want to be back in that time, but it felt a lot more open.’
If you had to describe the core sensibility of Gordon’s work—painting, vocal performance, or dress—it would be that quintessentially Californian expansive desolation. It’s a feeling, not an idea, and it’s what first pulled Gordon away from fine art and toward rock ’n’ roll. ‘When I came to New York, I’d go and see bands downtown playing no-wave music,’ she recalls of her arrival, after graduating from art school. ‘It was expressionistic and it was also nihilistic. Punk rock was tongue-in-cheek, saying, ‘Yeah, we’re destroying rock.’ No-wave music is more like, ‘NO, we’re really destroying rock.’ It was very dissonant. I just felt like, Wow, this is really free. I could do that.’”
I had no idea Kim Gordon was from California, let alone Orange County. I always assumed she was a NYC native, or possibly Jersey or Chicago or Detroit or some similar industrialized hell-hole.
Also, she’s amazing.