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Kim Gordon, the visual artist, writer and style icon best known for her star turn as bassist and lead singer of the alt-punk band Sonic Youth, has a new book with a black-and-white centrefold snapshot of her as a student at York University in the 1970s.

A memoir as scrapbook, No Icon uses personal images in addition to newspaper clippings, song lyrics, artworks, advertising campaigns and fashion editorials (including a favourite showing Gordon in a Marc Jacobs dress, shot by Juergen Teller) to trace a journey of creative exploration.

York figures prominently in the narrative. At the University, Gordon (who grew up in Los Angeles) made “minimalist, gooey, unstretched paintings, with no instructor,” and a “silent surrealist film about Patty Hearst” under the guidance of Fluxus filmmaker George Manupelli, then a York professor and the main reason Gordon wanted to come to Canada. It’s also where she started her first band, Below the Belt, a class project that engendered Sonic Youth and all the noise that followed. 

York is hipper than you may think.  ■