The Photographers’ Gallery is to present ‘Punk Weekender’, a weekend of special events marking forty years of punk heritage and influence in the capital. Staged as part of the year long initiative, Punk London, these include a spotlight Print Sales exhibition, a digital presentation plus an exclusive live gig by The Raincoats. The Punk Weekender is also accompanied by two offsite exhibitions on display at Sonos Studio.
The Punk Weekender is a cultural examination of the punk movement, with a focus on the ideological, social and political context for its insurgence in Soho and Greater London. The programme explores the Do-It-Yourself ethos and avant-garde spirit that led to various punk subcultures and the reinvention of self- expression and personal identity which played out against the turbulent politics and economics of late 1970s Britain.
The Print Sales Gallery features never before exhibited images of punks shot by Shirley Baker in the 1980s. Best known and celebrated for her warm and humorous street photographs of inner city life in Manchester, Baker’s punk pictures reveal a different aspect to her work. Alongside black and white prints, the display contains rare colour portraits, which capture the provocative style and attitude of punk youth culture and offer a glimpse into the vibrant and dynamic nature of various punk cliques.
A digital presentation on the Gallery’s Media Wall showcases iconic work by photographers Janette Beckman, Anita Corbin, Owen Harvey, Derek Ridgers and Gavin Watson alongside archival images from Photographic Youth Music and Culture Archive (PYMCA) and the world’s largest music and technology archive, EMI Archive. The exhibition surveys a plethora of subcultures that followed on from punk, drawing together significant bodies of works from over the last forty years and featuring skinheads, mods and female youth tribes.
Also presented on the Media Wall is an especially commissioned timeline from Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio. Based around interviews Knight conducted with key punk figures, the timeline comprises images, videos and texts tracing the evolution of punk through the decades.
Other highlights include a screening of Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee, family workshops, late evening Bookshop events and an exclusive performance on Saturday 25 June on the Gallery’s studio floor by the seminal all female post-punk band The Raincoats. Formed in the late 1970s, the band was admired for their off-kilter and idiosyncratic music, which paved the way and influenced feminist musicians such as Beth Ditto, the German art-punk collective Chicks On Speed and later icons such as Nirvana.
In September of this year artist, designer and punk historian Toby Mott will be signing his new book Showboat: Punk, Sex, Bodies in the Gallery’s Bookshop. An avid follower of punk music, graphics and fashion, Mott began his expansive personal collection of ephemera as a 13 year-old punk in 1977. Drawing from this collection, rare punk memorabilia will be on display and Mott’s publications available to purchase in the Bookshop.
In addition to this series of events, The Photographers’ Gallery in collaboration with Sonos Studio presents Swagger & Spit. On display from 17 May 2016, the exhibition explores the vibrant characters and visual legacy of some of the era’s most iconic stage performers.
The first of two pop-up exhibitions curated by the Gallery, Swagger & Spit delves into the archives of acclaimed subculture and street photographers Derek Ridgers (b. 1950, UK) and Janette Beckman (UK). Ridgers’ portraits capture the raw energy, aggression and exhibitionism of lead vocalists in legendary London clubs, while Beckman’s candid street images depict the evolution of punk as it transitioned from an underground youth culture to mainstream re-appropriation. This collection of black and white portraits includes Adam Ant, Joan Jett, Lydia Lunch, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, Ari Up and The Raincoats.
The second exhibition in Sonos Studio is set to open in September, displaying a newly commissioned series of portraits by Brian David Stevens looking at punk’s fusion with reggae and dub.
Photo: Shirley Baker, Two punks drinking cider, Stockport, 1983 © Shirley Baker Estate, Courtesy of Shirley Baker Estate/ Mary
Punk Weekender – 23 – 26 June 2016 – Photographers Gallery London