Born in 1974, ICP was still a young institution when punk rock exploded, and evidence of the genre is scattered throughout the Library. Whether you’re looking for an Iggy Pop portrait or a photo from Jello Biafra’s wedding (conducted in a Bay Area graveyard, as seen below in f-Stop Fitzgerald’s Weird Angle), punk is well documented, perhaps appropriately for a subculture defined as much by image as by music. Far from a full bibliography, the below is a snapshot of some key titles:
f-Stop Fitzgerald. Weird Angle.
TR681.M86 .F57 1982
Frequent coverage of the topic shouldn’t be surprising, since punk rock has been accepted into the canon by this point: the Ramones, Clash, and Sex Pistols are all in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, even if the latter refused to attend the induction ceremony. Johnny Rotten, however, was happy to have his picture taken (several times) by Anton Corbijn, along with Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, Siouxsie Sioux, and Ari Up (RIP). These images appeared in Corbijn’s 1989 book Famouz, one of several by the photographer in ICP’s catalog.
In Corbijn’s elegant black and white portraits, these punk icons sit comfortably alongside musicians like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, but other photographers have opted for publications that more closely mirror the slapdash style of punk zines. Much like f-Stop Fitzgerald, the recent Bruno Hadjadj publication Bye Bye CBGB bids farewell to the legendary NYC venue through images of its appropriately unsavory patrons, accompanied by crudely drawn sketches on lined notebook paper (presumably by Hadjadj, but I don’t have the language skills to translate his introductory notes).
Especially in its early years, punk frequently overlapped with the artistic avant-garde. Citing as his early inspiration the juxtaposition of an Anselm Kiefer exhibition and a screening of the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, curator Dominic Molon examined this parallel in a 2007 exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, accompanied by the publication below. Punk plays a major role in Molon’s project, with Richard Hell contributing an introductory essay.
Hell is an important figure in early punk, and his archives are a part of the Downtown Collection at NYU’s Fales Library & Special Collections. The Downtown Collection has also spawned an exhibition/publication project, including punk among a host of other upstart genres blossoming at a time of creative explosion in the lower portion of New York City.
Finally, lest one think that punk died in the ’80s, Kim Badawi draws our attention to the present-day American punk scene by focusing his lens on its adoption by Muslim youth. Conscious of being dismissed as a gimmick, Badawi lets the musicians speak for themselves through one band leader’s introductory essay and in vibrant color photographs that capture the alternately exciting and banal details of his subjects’ daily lives.
Joe Ketner (on loan from the ICP development department)