Atelier COS

Atelier C.O.S. (2004) at Kunstverein Wolfsburg
© Chicks On Speed, courtesy the artists

The band Chicks On Speed (COS), which originally consisted of Melissa Logan, Alex Murray-Leslie, and Kiki Moorse, was founded in the mid-1990s, emerging from a circle connected with the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) in Munich. One of the band’s earlier projects was the Seppi Bar, which served both as an occasional club and an exhibition and performance location. Here, well-known DJs such as Justus Köhncke could be found at the turntables. Although the band defied the prevalent work description and predominantly produced shows, performances, and multiple events, it also had an eclectic visual output (covers, clothing, video clips, posters, etc.). The history of the band began with the production of this kind of object. Before COS had produced a single recording they were already able to offer a wide range of merchandising products and films. The fake band soon became a real one. In order not to relinquish responsibility for production and distribution to outsiders, they founded their own label, Chicks on Speed Records, which mainly produced works by women and musicians with an artistic background.

Atelier COS (COS Studio; spring 2004) was the name of the first comprehensive installation by COS, in which the band looked back on its musical career and reassessed its media strategies for achieving stardom. The Atelier COS in Kunstverein Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg Art Association) was intended to function as an exhibition but also as a production site, performance venue, and salesroom. The space was divided up to accommodate different themes ranging from Fake Band to Class War. At the opening, several assistants helped to produce textiles (from tailoring to printing to the finished product)––on the one hand, because clothing plays an important role in the band’s merchandising and, on the other, because COS wanted to reproduce a sweatshop production line, as it were, in close proximity to the assembly-line work being carried out at the nearby Volkswagen plant. In Press the Press, a large-format mural made up of enlarged copies of articles about COS, the band commented on music journalism. Their female monsters, which hung in space, created a counterpoint to the traditional ideal of beauty. A stage garnished with material and text banners was set up as an additional exhibit in the center of the hall. The stage set consisted of a large-format painting by Daniel Richter, which also served as the record cover for the 12’’ single Wordy Rappinghood (2003). The band held a concert on this stage at a label night, which also saw Kevin Blechdom and Angie Reed perform. After the exhibition, Atelier COS moved to the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.