List At Home | Spinning Tracks with Nayland Blake

An installation by Nayland Blake features Barbra Streisand's album Superman.

Nayland Blake, Controversy, 1972-1977-1982, 1993. Mixed media. 30.5 × 65.5 × 9 in. (78 × 166 × 23 cm).

In the center of our Hayden gallery, Nayland Blake’s installation Ruins of a Sensibility, 1972-2002 (2002) is designed to be activated by visitors.

Comprised of Blake’s expansive collection of over three thousand LPs, a DJ setup, and the first artwork the artist ever produced (a Jackson Pollock–inspired splatter painting made in collaboration with their father when they were a child), Ruins of a Sensibility invites visitors to take on the role of DJ while becoming acquainted with Blake through the artist’s personal effects. The work is perhaps one of Blake’s most personal in that it directly references their coming of age through music.

Blake began collecting records as a teenager, developing their taste and sense of self, and forming bonds with others through the music they gravitated toward. Ruins of a Sensibility illustrates Blake’s overarching interest in identity and representation, how people tend to connect their identities to their personal belongings and interests; and how our personalities, interests, and selfhood shift as time progresses.

While our gallery doors have remained closed due to MIT’s COVID-19 protocols, we would be remiss not to share some of the music that shaped much of the work found inside No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake. On the weekend before the exhibition closes, and on occasion of Blake’s birthday, we hope you’ll join us in “spinning” a selection of tracks hand-picked by artist Nayland Blake, director Paul Ha, and our List Center installation team.

Below you’ll find Spotify playlists that resemble some of the “sets” you might have heard while visiting the galleries.

Sets from Ruins of a Sensibility

Nayland’s Set The go-to vinyls 

It’s doubtful that anyone is better acquainted with this vast collection of LPs than Nayland. They’ve shared a characteristically eclectic hour-long set—ranging from classics like Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, and Chick Corea with Gary Burton to early Cocteau Twins and the Cramps—that keeps it light, groovy, and a little weird. We’ve been listening to it all day!

Screenshot from Nayland Blake's Spotify playlist including the album cover and first 5 song titles.

Paul’s Picks Escaping to another time

List Center Director Paul Ha and Nayland go way back—all the way to Paul’s days at New York’s storied alternative space, White Columns. Given their history, and Paul’s love of music, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity for Paul to share a set. His playlist includes several genres—from jazz, to funk, to folk—with songs that allude to other places, movement, and the passage of time. As Paul says of these timely themes, “my selections are loosely based on escaping with a little bit of hopefulness.”  

Screenshot of a Spotify playlist titled "Paul Ha's Set from Ruins of a Sensibility" with the first 5 songs showing.

Install Crew’s Selects Albums for long projects 

At over 9 hours long, this playlist offers a selection of the records the List Center team played while installing No Wrong Holes and features full albums. Why? Well, installing an exhibition with over 70 objects takes a long time, and albums are certainly meant to be listened to in full. Several of the albums were new discoveries while others are old classics revisited. A few crew favorites, including an a-cappella rendition of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and Osaka-based alt-rock band Shonen Knife’s Pretty Little Baka Guy are so rare we couldn’t find them on Spotify. We encourage you to check them out nonetheless!

Screenshot of Install Crew Spotify playlist including the first 5 song titles and album covers.