You don’t write a song like “God Save The Queen” because you hate the English race. You do it because you love them and you are fed up with them being mistreated – John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, Sex Pistols.
In the mid 80’s, my much older boyfriend was in a post Punk band and a student in economy at the Sorbonne, and a member of the Red Brigades in Italy. And he was doing some stuff with some guy called Kenneth Anger. His brother was a “dodgy” smuggler in Southern Asia.
I lived in Africa when the Punk movement exploded and when I arrived in Europe, I was “naturally” drawn to extravagant sounds, hitchhiking to Paris to meet up with the remains of the Paris Punk scene, lodged in the Catacombes, participating to some political propagandas when my parents thought I was bourgeoisement sleeping at a next door village friend place, doing my homework! How cute of them! To this day, they still believe it however wondering how their education failed... despite thinking I was a communist due to my vivid interest in arts.
Today, I’m always surprised when a young Western generation claim to be Punk, when in fact they seem to be using punk as a convenience, “selling” lowbrow art/shows with a highbrow attitude! Perhaps, as Penny Rimbaud (Crass) stated in 2005 “Punk as I knew it has a political purpose. What is classified as ‘punk' music these days is absolutely empty and gutless.”(See below link for full article)
Goldsmiths University of London is offering an autumn series in its Visual Cultures Public Programme, entitled Post-Punk Then and Now. It consists of a series of lectures, in-conversations and film screenings exploring post-punk’s popular modernist search for the new in the very broadest of contexts. The series will take in the changing cultural and political conditions between the 1970s and the 21st century.
Gavin Butt, Kodwo Eshun & Mark Fisher from Goldsmith will explore Post Punk era through prestigious guests coming from around the world: Lydia Lunch, Agata Pyzik, Michał Woliński, Gee Vaucher, Laura Oldfield Ford, Green Gartside, Bruno Verner, Eliete Mejorado, Sue Clayton and Tom Vague.
Gavin Butt is Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance. He was initially trained as an artist and art historian. He now does research on art and performance that is both scholarly and creative, including writing books, curating public events and filmmaking. He has a BA Art (Studio Practice)/ Art History - Goldsmiths, University of London; MA Social History of Art - University of Leeds; PhD Art History - University of Leeds (See below for more info on his research)
Kodwo Eshun teaches on the MA in Aural and Visual Cultures. He studied English Literature (BA Hons, MA Hons) at University College, Oxford University, and Romanticism and Modernism MA Hons at Southampton University. Younger, Eshun undertook a study of comic books, J. G. Ballard, and rock music and has written on electronic music, science fiction, technoculture, gameculture, drug culture, post war movies and post war art for The Face, The Wire, i-D, Melody Maker, Spin, Arena and The Guardian. He is also co-founder of The Otolith Group with Anjalika Sagar that was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010 for their project A Long Time Between Suns.
Mark Fisher is lecturer and a course leader for the MA in Aural/Visual Cultures and teaches the MA Special Subject, Vocalities. He is currently supervising dissertations on the voice and horror; the relationship between 90s cyber-theory, speculative realism and contemporary materialism; and music and attention. He has a BA (Hons) in English and Philosophy, University of Hull; PhD in Philosophy and Literature, University of Warwick. Flatline Constructs: Gothic Materialism and Cybernetic Theory-Fiction.
Gavin Butt and I corresponded quickly about the series:
Me: You are bringing a worldwide panel; do you think that it is crucial to get into more radical & social changes rapidly?
Gavin Butt: The Programme is devised to explore overlooked post-punk scenes internationally, in Brazil and Poland, as well as reconsider some US/UK scenes to refresh our understandings about what post-punk “was” and how it might shed light on the conditions for radical culture today.
Is the event Post-Punk Then and Now to coincide with a specific book-music release or gig? Is Lydia Lunch coming only for the purpose?
No. It is to kick-start a more sustained programme of research on the subject at Goldsmiths. Lydia is indeed coming to the UK especially for this programme.
Is your series a pretext to actually trigger consciousness on the importance of reacting against a global capitalist system in which the whole world seems to indulge?
It is designed to foster better understandings about the changing conditions of cultural production since post-punk 70’s and 80’s, and to foster an historical perspective upon the present. As Marx famously said we make history but not in conditions of our own choosing. This series spends some time thinking carefully about what the conditions of the present and the recent past are/were.
What outcome do you expect from it?
In narrowly academic terms, I am hoping to develop a more sustained international network of researchers on post-punk, and to build on this with a large-scale collaborative project. But, in more general terms, I am hoping to ignite a debate about the inter-disciplinary nature of post-punk experimentation and politic-ing beyond the academy.
Why an interest in Punk in general? – Many young people in the art scene seem to be influenced by the Punk scene – What does it mean today “Punk”?
This is a big question. We will address this in various ways in the coming weeks...
The serie will take place from 2 October to 11 December 2014, every Thursdays. All welcome & Free.
9 October: Lydia Lunch in conversation with Dominic Johnson. I had the pleasure to meet Lydia in a small literary cafe located in D’Arblay Street, W1 in the mid-late 90’s. It was packed, sweaty and sweary. The lady was reading her book. Lydia’s work embraces music, writing, films with a provocative attitude since mid 70’s.
23 October: Agata Pyzik and Michał Woliński in conversation with Gavin Butt. Agata Pyzik is a Polish journalist who lives in Warsaw and London. After studying philosophy, art history, English and American studies, she established herself as a writer on art, politics, music and culture for The Wire, Guardian, New Statesman, New Humanist, Afterall and Frieze. At present, her main interest is in contemporary forms of resistance and political aesthetics. Michal Woliński is founder and editor of Piktogram, a Polish magazine written in English and Polish: “Talking Pictures Magazine” is a magazine which publishes specially prepared by artists or so far unknown visual materials. They are accompanied by thorough and perverse texts from the field of art, architecture, film, design, science and fiction”
30 October: Mark Fisher: 'Going Overground: Post-Punk between Populism and Popular Modernism'
13 November: Gee Vaucher and Laura Oldfield Ford in conversation with Mark Fisher. Gee Vaucher is a visual artist, famous for her work with Anarcho-Resistance-Punk band Crass. She uses her painting and collage as a tool for 'protest art' and social change as well as to expresses her anarcho-pacifist-feminist views. Ian Dury was one of her admirers. She is also famous for her art quote "All humans are animal, but some animals are more human than others." Laura Oldfield Ford is an artist and psychogeographer who documents the city as it is dangerously disappearing into a process of enclosure and privatisation. Each of Savage Messiah issue focuses on a London postcode "urban drifts" where she describes an area through found objects and texts, recollecting the memory of an architectural landscape that is soon becoming an archaeological ruin.
20 November: Green Gartside in conversation with Kodwo Eshun. Green Gartside is post Punk band Scritti Politti frontman, a Welsh musician who collaborated with Elvis Costello, Mos Def, Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Eurythmics, Robyn Hitchcock etc. He is now also a presenter on BBC 6 Music.
27 November: Bruno Verner and Eliete Mejorado in conversation with Gavin Butt. The Brazilian duo is very well known for forming the tropical post Punk band Tetine in the mid 90’s, securing a deal with mighty Mr Bongo among other labels. As a pair, they combine experimental performance and sounds, electronic music, film-video making, and poetry who have performed in Brazil with Marianne Faithfull, Diamanda Galas and John Cale, and Sophie Calle and Scanner in London. As solo act, Verner was an active sound maker in South of Brazil's post punk and industrial scene from the 80’s while Eliete Mejorado was a performance artist, videomaker and actress as well as physical theatre and drag.
4 December: Sue Clayton in conversation with Kodwo Eshun: ‘The Song of the Shirt’. Clayton is a British feature film writer and director well known for directing The Disappearance Of Finbar; The Last Crop and the British Academy nominated short Heart Songs. She won Best Short Documentary Film for Hamedullah: The Road Home in 2012.
11 December : Tom Vague: ‘Vague Post-Punk Memoirs’. Taken from his memoirs: “Before punk I was a boot boy/glam rocker/soul boy, much more interested in football than music... As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a vagrant; on the road, unemployed, undomesticated, independent, at liberty, etc; and identified with outsider, drop out or alien characters, duly leading to pop obsessions with David Bowie and the Sex Pistols. I left school, at the first opportunity, aged 16 in July 1976...”
The series will be accompanied by screenings of The Song of the Shirt (dir: Sue Clayton, 1979) and Radio On (dir: Chris Petit, 1979) …dates and times TBA.
Radio On is one of my favourite films and a rarely screened British road movie. Chris Petit was Time Out Film Editor in the 70’s until he went to BFI and asked money to make Radio On. With no experience in film making... BFI gave him money. And so did Wim Wenders who also “lent” his cameraman/light operator. In the late 70’s, there was no real deal to use music in films. So, when Petit asked David Bowie and Kraftwerk to use their music, they simply agreed and never asked for any royalties or fees. “Look” out for Heroes in the early scene and Radioactivity on the highway from Camden to Bristol. Pure délice! And try to recognise Sting cameo at the petrol station...
When I lived in Latin America a decade ago, I worked with local curators who studied in Leeds, London and Manchester in the 70’s and 80’s. They brought back music, comics, posters, books etc from Glam Rock to Post Punk that actually helped shape the resistance against dictatorship going/on the go. Today, post-punk “totems” are still a reference in art, music, dance or literature to continue shaping an awareness and acceptance of all social classes that is divided (in some countries) in five classes (A, B, C, D, E). It is most certainly a privilege for us in the Western world to be able to attend this series.
Where and when: Thursdays 2 October to 11 December. 5.00-7.00pm - Various venues around Goldsmiths, University of London - Lewisham Way - New Cross – London, SE14 6NW - Free
Facebook event = https://www.facebook.com/events/729212240479727/
More info on serie = http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/visual-cultures/g-butt.php
Gavin Butt = http://www.gold.ac.uk/visual-cultures/g-butt/
Kodwo Eshun = http://otolithgroup.org/
Mark Fisher = http://www.gold.ac.uk/visual-cultures/staff/fishermark/
Penny Rimbaud in Vice = http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/fuck-v12n3
Official Johnny Rotten bio to be released mid October + new PiL album in the making to be released in summer 2015. His bio is called "Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored". Les Editions Le Seuil will release his bio in French on the 16 October “La rage est mon énergie"
My other Punk related posts:
The BFI has a few documentaries to watch for free in their Southbank mediatheque (see post on Knorr/Richon)
A little advice, but hard to see:
Try to watch 1983 Alan Clarke’s Made in Britain featuring Tim Roth (the cope in Reservoir Dogs), film I mentioned here: http://babylondonorbital.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/i-stalked-window-cleaner-on-woodkid.html
Or, 1985 Charles Atlas’ Hail the New Puritains with Michael Clarke mentioned here: http://babylondonorbital.blogspot.com/2013/09/michael-clark-very-rare-screening-hail.html
If you are interested in fashion / post punk in fashion, look out for my post on Alexander McQueen
Sybille Castelain for email@example.com – Always happy to feature projects