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Arts and Entertainment

The Sex Pistols will Change Your Life: Shepard Fairey's Subliminal Projects Opens Sid Vicious-Inspired Art Show

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Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols, lived a short, tumultuous life that tragically ended in 1979 with a heroin overdose. Though he was only 21, he remains a larger-than-life punk icon. Tonight (Dec. 13), Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects opens the show SID: Superman Is Dead—a collaborative exhibition between British photographer Dennis Morris and Fairey that pays homage to Vicious.

Morris—who might not have Fairey’s name recognition—is no slouch either, first making a name for himself as a teenager by capturing enduring images of Bob Marley. He later became the Sex Pistols tour photographer and even designed the recognizable logo for Johnny Lydon’s next band: Public Image Ltd. The photographer approached Fairey about collaborating on a show, and he showed Fairey his extensive archive of Sex Pistols photos.

“All of my images [in the show] are inspired by Dennis’ photographs,” Fairey says in a recent phone interview. “The Sid photos were some of his strongest photos.” The two artists decided to focus the exhibition solely on Vicious, who Fairey calls “tragic figure” and an “antihero” of his.

“It’s great to have an icon that never grew old and [lived] no so gracefully.”

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An avid music fan and part-time DJ, Fairey waxes effusive about the pioneering punk band: “The Sex Pistols changed rock’n’roll and changed my life,” said Fairey. “Never Mind the Bullocks is one of the greatest albums from one of the greatest bands of any genre.

“And I usually close my sets with “My Way” [by Vicious]’s a great closer. and in a way, is my mantra.”

Fairey says that music is a more “visceral assault on the senses” and the SID: Superman is Dead show brings the visual and sonic arts together for what promises to be a memorable exhibition.

Among the highlights of SID is an installation of a hotel room Sid destroyed after a night of drinks, drugs, and depression in 1977. And at tonight’s opening is a special musical performance by Ritchie Love—it’s like punk’s answer to the Traveling Wilburys—featuring Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Billy Idol (who co-founded Generation X before his successful solo career), Leigh Gorman (Bow Wow Wow) and Clem Burke (Iggy & The Stooges, Blondie, Ramones).

Oh, and just for fun, we asked the Fairey about an essential three song playlist before attending the show, and here’s what he recommends:

> Iggy and the Stooges: “No Fun” OR (“I Wanna be Your Dog.”)
> Sex Pistols: “God Save the Queen”
> Generation X: “Ready, Steady, Go”

The opening reception takes place tonight (Dec. 13) from 8-11 pm with a $10 suggested donation at the door. If you can’t make it tonight, SID: Superman is Dead runs at Subliminal Projects through Jan. 11, 2014.

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