Last weekend I attended the opening party for Punk 'Til You Puke, an exhibition of 70s punk ephemera at Art Metropole. A point of interest is that the show is curated by Will Munro, an artist whose work often boasts a specific interest- and expansive knowledge- of punk culture and history. As someone also very interested in punk art/design/history, this show was a virtual playground of relics, rare pictures, music publications, bookworks and bric-a-brac from the late 70s-early 80s punk scenes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Toronto. Particularily amazing inclusions were several of Black Flag artist and current contemporary fine artist Raymond Pettibons early bookworks, rare photos of classic Toronto punk bands the Viletones, the B-Girls and the Curse, numerous original posters and handbills, and entire volumes of American/British punk publications Sniffin' Glue, Search and Destroy and Slash.
Here is some more official information on the exhibition:
Conceived and curated by music and art world artist/activist Will Munro, Art Metropole is pleased to present PUNK 'TIL YOU PUKE!, an exhibition of '70's punk ephemera selected from recently uncovered production/research material collected by General Idea to produce their "Punk 'Til You Puke!" issue of FILE Megazine (vol. 3, no. 4, fall 1977).*
In the early '70's artists were struggling to have their voices reach larger audiences. Andy Warhol had demonstrated how rock and roll was a viable context, but it was the destructive, chaotic, anti-social theatre of the ridiculous that punk was that gave the new generation - those with plenty of attitude and ideas, who might not have known how to play an instrument - the license to create. The artistic avant-garde's strategic interest in mail-art, zines, correspondence, and postal networking became a viral strategy that punks co-opted to disseminate their message, a process that has infected the cultural landscape eternally.
The "Punk 'Til You Puke!" issue of FILE, explored the art scene/music scene merger. General Idea's editorial states:
In Toronto and New York they fiddled with performance and fled to punk. Art/Rock 'n' Rroll crossover was the original theme of this issue: Throbbing Gristle at the ICA; the Poles at the McLaughlin Gallery; the Dishes and the Talking Heads at A Space; the New York Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center; Talking Heads at the Kitchen; CEAC and the Crash & Burn.
Now every concert is an event. Alan Suicide is a musician, or is he? Michaele Berman is an artist, or is she? Robin Lee Crutchfield is an ----------, or is he? Patti Smith is a poet, or is she?
The sentimentalism of late sixties early seventies essentially surrealistic aesthetic has been replaced by a certain pragmatic anarchy which is now the theme of this issue:
It's cheap it's easy go do it!
PUNK 'TIL YOU PUKE! captures a moment in history when artists were disentangling themselves from the dominant music industry. Produced in this process was a plethora of independent publications, record labels, promotional materials, and live performance venues. This exhibition contains incredible evidence of this counter cultural explosion including the notorious zines Sniffing Glue, Bondage, Slash, Crash and Burn Newsletter, Punk, Search and Destroy. Also included are gig posters from San Francisco, Toronto, London and New York as well as hand written press packages from bands like The Curse, Crime, The Screamers, The Viletones, Throbbing Gristle, The B Girls, The Brats, and Talking Heads, to name a few.
In addition to the archive material, there are relevant books and multiples available for sale, as well as limited re-issues of some of the photo-copied zines displayed in the exhibition.
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