DEVO 5-0: The Beginning was the End
A Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute to The De-Evolution Band
August 28, 2023 – December 9, 2023
Florida Southwestern State College is proud to announce “DEVO 5-0: The Beginning was the End – A Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute to The De-Evolution Band” at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery from August 28th through December 9th, 2023.
The first-ever expansive and career-spanning museum survey of the group that David Bowie once dubbed “The Band of the Future,” this immersive and multimedia installation presents stage-worn costumes, screen-featured props, tour-used instruments and artifacts, as well as, never-before-seen handwritten lyrics (including “Whip It”, “Girl U Want” and “Be Stiff”), concert flyers, posters, Club Devo memorabilia, product prototypes and album concept art. Deeply mining the archives of former bandmembers, close associates/collaborators, longtime friends and fans, this is the most comprehensive consideration of one of the most influential (yet still underrated) bands in the history of Rock n’ Roll.
Following the success of DEVO frontman Mark Mothersbaugh’s “Postcards for Democracy” exhibition (with collaborator Beatie Wolfe) in 2021, the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW hosted DEVO director Chuck Statler (“The Godfather of Music Video”) in February 2023 as he world-premiered a program of newly-restored music video and pre-MTV films as an anticipatory “DEVO 5-0” kick-off event. As Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW Director and co-author of two definitive books on the band [“We Are DEVO!” (SAF Publishing Ltd./UK, 2003/2008) and “The Beginning was the End: DEVO in Ohio” (The University of Akron Press, 2023)], Jade Dellinger contends, “Mingling kitsch and deadpan Dada-inspired humor with a cuttingly satirical social commentary, DEVO were widely recognized at the time for their 1980 hit ‘Whip It’, but are now (at long-last) acknowledged for their trailblazing creativity, unapologetic challenging of societal norms and pioneering legacy of defying convention through the merging of music and visual art.”
With the tragedy of the May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings as a catalyst, this collective of student-survivors and creative misfits drew inspiration from their industrial Northeast Ohio environ, proposed the novel idea that instead of continuing to evolve – humankind had actually begun to regress, formed a musical kinship, and then channeled their ideas and protopunk energy into a sprawling, multifaceted art project. Disillusioned by all they had witnessed and observed, their philosophical stance and resulting creative production was a bold commentary on corruption and inequity in the United States, the commodification of a society in evident decline, and the perceived ‘dumbing down’ of an entire generation by mass media. Debuting at the 1973 K.S.U. Creative Arts Festival as the “Sextet Devo,” The De-Evolution Band (or “DEVO” for short) continues to be relevant even now – five decades later – inspiring new generations to think critically, embrace individuality, and to push boundaries.
“DEVO 5-0: The Beginning was the End – A Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute to The De-Evolution Band” at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery is a testament to the band’s enduring legacy and the indelible mark that DEVO has left on popular culture through their distinctive fusion of music, art, and social commentary. Now it can be told, seen and experienced.
Additional announcements will follow in coming weeks and months as lectures, performances and special events are confirmed in conjunction with the exhibition.
Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW
The Bob Rauschenberg Gallery was founded as The Gallery of Fine Art in 1979 on the Lee County campus of Florida Southwestern State College/FSW (then Edison Community College). On June 4th 2004 the Gallery of Fine Art was renamed the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, to honor and commemorate our longtime association and friendship with the artist. Over more than three decades until his death, the Gallery worked closely with Rauschenberg to present world premiere exhibitions including multiple installations of the ¼ Mile or Two Furlong Piece. The artist insisted on naming the space the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery (versus the “Robert Rauschenberg Gallery”) as it was consistent with the intimate, informal relationship he maintained with both our local Southwest Florida community and FSW.