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Mutually assured destruction at the Whitney

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As part of the Whitney Biennial, the artist Frances Stark presented a night of “lectures” on 14 April at the museum by the DC punk-rock legend Ian Svenonius (of Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War, and Chain and the Gang). Stark’s contribution to the biennial is blown-up drawings of Svenonius’ manifesto Censorship Now!, a maybe-satire that dispenses koans such as “Ikea wants couples to break up. Each break-up results in more bachelors and bachelorettes, which results in more Ikea products sold.” The evening had a setlist. “There may be an encore lecture,” said Svenonius, in a glittery suit, with an electric guitar. “It may be original or a cover of a classic lecture.” One lecture, titled “The Suburban Esoteric”, analysed why Bob Dylan smoked marijuana and why it was more dangerous for the Beatles to smoke marijuana. Stand-out lyrics from another lecture referring to deterrence titled “Vote for me: I want my finger on the button” included: “Some say a chicken in every pot. Why not a silo in every yard?” A drum machine droned in the background. Then he played a solo.