One of the themes explored in the special exhibition Kurt, coming soon to the Fourth Floor at SAM Downtown—of which this video installation is a part—is the relationship between fans and the object of their desire. In the case of Kurt Cobain and the artists gathered together who reference him, we see that mourning and reflection is often formulated in very personal ways. As time goes on, these expressions often take convoluted form.
Such is the case with this new work by Seattle artist Gretchen Bennett, debuting at the Seattle Art Museum. It takes its basis in the 2003 song by contemporary pop singer Cat Power, "I Don't Blame You," in which she sympathizes with the fate of a troubled but unnamed rock star. It has been speculated that this guitarist is Cobain, and the song resonated with Bennett, who has also been deeply affected by the late musician.
Bennett channeled this fascination with Cobain (and an appreciation for Power's paean to him) by teaching herself piano in order to play the song and sing the lyrics. To personalize this attachment further, she has paired her version of the song with video imagery of a snapdragon taken in a casual moment in a bar. This triple-layered act of ventriloquism—the flower singing the song, remade by Bennett, of Power’s "conversation" with Cobain—is indicative of how Cobain’s life and tragic story continue to inform and inspire creative people around the world, often in unpredictable and deeply individual ways.
–Michael Darling, Former Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art
I Don’t Blame You, 2009, Gretchen Bennett, American, b. 1960, video projection, 3 minutes, 33 seconds, Courtesy of the artist and Howard House, Seattle, © Gretchen Bennett. Thanks to Artist Trust, Garek Druss, Joel Kvernmo, Brant Campbell and Stephen Zielke.