Last Thursday Fred + B wandered over to lower Soho to see a gallery show that caught our ear, “We Buy White Albums.” It’s by artist Rutherford Chang, who confesses a passion for cataloging, so of course we liked him instantly. Here you can view the 650+ copies of the first pressings of the Beatles’ White Album (undated. Capitol Records. real title: Beatles) with the band’s name embossed on the white cover. The Recess Gallery functions as an anti-store (place that buys things off you and sells nothing), complete with neon signage, respite from the inappropriate commercial sprawl of the Met and MOMA.
As you may know the earlier versions of this double LP were numbered, and contained a few letter or symbol prefixes. While no one knows exactly, looking at our copies and talking to Rutherford, the numbered copies range into the three millions.
He had only one copy older than our earliest numbered copy here at the ARC, 0015105. Like ours, most of these artifacts have split covers, are tattered and yellowing. In his record store-like racks a clean white edge immediately catches your eye, on the gallery wall the ones that are drawn on evoked a kind of folk art, the flat white surface offering a chance to make the commercial, personal. One of our favorites was this one from Argentina featuring our favorite band, Los Beatles.
Beyond the visual, you can listen to any copy, and your informed choices will be part of an instant aural mix and eventually a layered reimagining of the album.
So trek through all that white stuff this weekend and have a look/listen to “We Buy White Albums.” You can also attend the closing Reception on March 7, 6-9pm to see how the collection has grown and the show evolved.