Exhibition on view through December 31, 2011
In 1979, a soon to erupt punk scene took hold in Washington, DC with the Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, Teen Idles, the Untouchables, and the Slickee Boys, among others, at the forefront. Lucian Perkins, later a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist for the Washington Post, was then a 26-year-old intern who photographed several shows over a pivotal five-month period. Alec MacKaye, then 14, was at most of the shows and appears in Perkins' photographs.
Years later, in 1995, Lely Constantinople was hired by Perkins to manage his large photographic collection spanning a twenty-five year career with the Post. While looking through negatives in his basement, she found the punk images and recognized MacKaye, her then boyfriend (now husband). She asked to make contact sheets to show him, thinking he might recognize himself and others, and was surprised by how excited MacKaye was to see the images.
"Those pictures were the holy grail! Not that many people brought cameras to shows then so I always wondered who he was and what happened to the pictures he took. He was at some of the best shows."
MacKaye's text offers an intimate exploration of the moment from two perspectives: that of a fourteen-year-old experiencing music on his own terms for the first time, and a look again at a movement that fueled an underground generation musically and philosophically. This examination is not a nostalgic review of glory days gone, as much as a present conversation about the continuation of a way of thinking that still endures.
HARD ART DC 1979 offers a snapshot of "the time before the time" that punk rock found firm footing in the U.S., including rare (some never before seen) photographs by Perkins and vintage show flyers. Through band performance shots, portraits and raucous crowds, the images capture the cathartic, infectious energy and spirit of the time. These photographs have never before been published or exhibited as a group.
This exhibition is scheduled to tour to the Good Children Gallery in New Orleans, LA and Austin, TX for the SXSW Music Festival. More tour dates to come.
Civilian Art Projects
1019 7th Street NW, Second Floor
Washington DC 20001