Sir Drone, 1989

A cult figure in the Californian underground circles of the seventies known for his pungent critique of American capitalism, Raymond Pettibon began making a series of home videos in the eighties. They were made with friends and featured artists and musicians who had supported him from the beginning of his career, when he used to design album sleeves, posters for concerts and flyers for Los Angeles punk rock bands such as Black Flag and Minutemen. The forcefulness of his ink drawings of icons from American culture – surfers, baseball players and celebrities such as Charles Manson, John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe – and his provocative texts are maintained in his amateur videos.

Recorded in two days, Sir Drone narrates the troubles encountered by two youngsters trying to form a proto-punk rock band in an industrial borough of Los Angeles in 1970. Featuring Mike Watt, base player of the mythical band Minutemen, and the artist and agitator Mike Kelley, it evokes the younger generation’s disappointment with the hippy scene. Kelley’s contribution to the project is the characteristic irreverence and corrosive language of his performances and involvement in the most radical type of rock music. Writing about his collaboration with Pettibon in Sir Drone, Kelly said: ‘Raymond Pettibon's intelligent drawings have long been favourites of mine. In 1988 he shot a number of feature-length tapes on home-video equipment. All of them concern American radical subjects: the Manson family, the Patty Hearst kidnapping by the S.L.A., the Weather Underground and the beginnings of the American punk movement. This last one is the theme of Sir Drone.’

Trying to break into the music world, the two main characters are faced with a series of ethical and aesthetic issues. Despite the harsh dialogue, scepticism and rebuttal of double standards of these two protagonists, Pettibon’s tapes are deeply moving for their capacity to probe the contradictions of American culture.

Technical details

Original title:
Sir Drone
Registration number:
Kelley, Mike - Pettibon, Raymond
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 56 min and card bag
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© 1993 Provisional Laramie, Wyoming; © 1989 Raymond Pettibon;
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