CICF News / 2013 / May / News Post
May 30, 2013
Rock of All Ages

On May 30, 1968, The Beatles began work on what would become known as The White Album. While the LP is officially an eponymous record, few people know it as The Beatles. The album was produced during a difficult time for the group, and many consider it to be more of a compilation of solo work by the various members and less an actual work of the whole group. Still, it is the group’s best selling release in America, certified 19 times as a Platinum album.

we buy white albums
Rutherford Chang's exhibit "We Buy White Albums" opens June 7 at iMOCA.
Indiana University professor and rock historian Glenn Gass will be featured in the June 12 INconversation focused on The Beatles.
Artist Rutherford Chang bought his first copy of The White Album for a dollar at a garage sale. Today, he has more than 250 copies.

Over the course of almost 45 years, The White Album’s originally pristine covers traveled in different ways, into different hands. Through those journeys, the covers have been marked, dented, scratched, scuffed, faded and much more. Artist Rutherford Chang is interested in the stories behind those battle scars, so much so that the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) will host an installation featuring Chang’s 750-plus first pressings from June 7 to July 21, 2013. His upcoming iMOCA show “We Buy White Albums” will feature a floor-to-ceiling display of his collection of 750-plus first pressings. As he did recently in the New York gallery Recess, he will set up a pseudo-record store with just one title – The White Album.

"I'm interested in the way that this album has aged so uniquely, it tells a story of everything that's happened in the last 45 years," Rutherford Change recently said in an interview in the Huffington Post. "Everyone has a story that goes with this album, and that's also apparent in the condition of the cover."

The exhibit explores the wear, tear and decorations of previous owners. Through a partnership with Indiana Humanities, music and art lovers will also have the chance to learn about The White Album’s place in both rock and Beatles history. On June 11, esteemed rock music historian Glenn Gass, an Indiana University professor who teaches a semester-long course on The Beatles and other rock history classes, will be featured in an INconversation focused on the LP’s history and other iconic rock stories. Both the INconversation series and iMOCA receive funding from The Indianapolis Foundation. The lunchtime event is free, though attendees can also reserve a lunch from Neal Brown's The Brown Bag service.

A Cultural Conversation

Indiana Humanities focuses on encouraging Hoosiers to think, read and talk, and INconversations reflect that mission. At each INconversation, a small audience gathers with a thought leader. Together, they explore a topic – previous events have covered diverse ideas from urban agriculture to the future of Indianapolis. A local moderator helps to guide the dialogue. The June 12 INconversation will be moderated by Vess Ruhtenberg, a local musician and artist.

While the events vary greatly by topic and speaker, one goal remains at the center of each event – to connect locals with exciting ideas. The June 11 event is unusual in that it will feature an academic, though Gass is both a decorated professor and an advisor to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH.

“The speakers that have been at the center of our INconversations have come from all backgrounds,” says Brandon Judkins, Director of Programs at Indiana Humanities. “It’s about finding the fascinating voice, rather than finding a specific kind of voice.”


Talking To All Generations

While one of the outcomes of Chang’s exhibit – exploring decay on the products of mass culture – may sound like a lofty contemporary art process, both the exhibit and the INconversation aim to attract a diverse audience.

“Part of the reason we’re excited about this one and anchoring it in this pop culture phenomenon that is The Beatles is that it has an intergenerational draw,” says Judkins. “I would love going to this event, people that are a decade younger than me would love it, and I think my Dad would love this as well – we can all relate to the conversation.”

Reserve a spot with the June 11 lunchtime INconversation online. Seating is limited.

Read more about iMOCA's recent spring break art camp.