Aus Exhibition Unveils Never-Before-Seen Archive Of Nirvana, Sonic Youth & More

30 August 2022 | 12:28 pm | Emma Whines

"We are so thankful that he created this important archive that connects us with a time of great creativity."

Popular Sydney art gallery, The Powerhouse, has unveiled its newest exhibition, featuring the never before seen archive of music entrepreneur Stephen 'Pav' Pavlovic. Opening to the public on Thursday the 27th of October, the exhibition explores the rise of the alternative music scene and showcases how Pavlovic played a key role in documenting and shaping bands like Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, Fugazi and Bikini Kill

Titled UNPOPULAR, the exhibition showcases more than 200 pieces from Pavlovic's collection, alongside stories from the community of artists he worked with. The pieces will lift the curtain and unveil so much of what went on behind the scenes in such an important era of music. 

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Big Day Out, Hordern Pavilion,1992. Photographed by Neil Wallace

Pavlovic's career was varied, with fingers in both touring and recorded music pies as the founder of Modular Records. As a promoter he was well known for bringing international acts to Australian shores, like the one and only Australian tour for Nirvana. In 1995, Pavlovic staged the Summersault Festival across five Australian cities, which included bands like Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, Beck, Foo Fighters, Pavement, Rancid, Jawbreaker, Bikini Kill and The Amps. In addition to realising the importance of live music, Pavlovic also included an art exhibition titled 'Culture Is Our Business' that toured in parallel to the festival and showcased artists like Spike Jonze, Mike Mills and Rita Ackermann

Kim Gordon and Thurston Moor of Sonic Youth, Summersault, Fremantle Oval, Perth,1996. Photographed by Sophie Howarth 

"Summersault brought a complete lifestyle to accompany the music. There was art for your eyes, streetwear for your back. A club night party or mega-festival performance. There was no music-genre tribalism. It was just either cool or not. Many of the artists were at the peak of their powers, little did we know that it was the beginning of the end of what was an exceptional period in music." said Pavlovic.

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As the creative director of Unpopular, Pavlovic has worked in conjunction with powerhouse curators to develop the exhibition and to shine a light on his own work as a true tastemaker. This exhibition showcases how influential and important he was in defining an era that changed the trajectory of what could be considered art and music for the foreseeable future. Any music history lover will be in awe of the fantastic never-before-seen footage, photos and stories that come from key moments in music. 

Courtney Love of Hole, Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel, Sydney, 1995.Photographed by Sophie Howarth.  

"Unpopular looks back at an extraordinary time for live music through the lens of Stephen Pavlovic, telling the story of the international and homegrown musicians and communities that drove the thriving Australian alternative music scene of the 1990s. Pav was there in it all and we are so thankful that he created this important archive that connects us with a time of great creativity," said Lisa Havilah, Powerhouse Chief Executive.

To accompany the show, the Powerhouse will be releasing UNPOPULAR: the book, written by Pav and offering diary-like insights into the bands, shows, and everything in between as alternative music moved out of the fringes and into the mainstream.  In addition, Pavlovic also let slip that this will be the first of many instalments of a much larger project detailing his life's work.   

More information on the event here.