Chicks on Speed: Art Rules Kyoto 2008


The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

Closes May 11; performance on May 3 at 7:30 p.m.

“Art Rules Kyoto 2008” is the Japan installment of a world touring art/fashion/music/performance project — with stops at MOMA New York and the Pompidou Center, Paris — centering around the former threesome, now duo, Chicks on Speed. Aka Alex Murray-Leslie and Melissa Logan, the electro act are bolstered by a cast of collaborators including 1996 Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon and local guests such as the all-female Japanese rock group OOIOO and Hanayo, the former geisha-in-training who is now a musician and photographer.

The main event, scheduled for May 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (¥3,000;, is expected to be both ludicrous and enticing, and comes with a rating: no one under 15.

Chicks on Speed formed in Munich at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1997 as a kind of “fake band,” complete with its own merchandising — one of their most well-known songs admits “We don’t play guitars.” Since then, the group, which set up art performances and parties, has joined with an amorphous crew of cohorts, extending its sphere of activities to fashion lines, a record label and any number of performances and visual arts.

Essentially a piss-take, though sincere in their insincerity, Chicks on Speed creates an electroclash aesthetic of bad taste and high jinks. Once as an opening act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, itwas apparently booed from the stage and pelted with urine-filled bottles hurled from the audience. The stagy kitsch quality of its performances has gained them many admirers, though, to whom the group reaches out via its MySpace page and YouTube uploads.