[full photoset on my Flickr]
So the CRASS art exhibition is up at Andrew Roth Gallery in the Upper East Side (until March 18), and it has some people up in arms (namely, the “Godfather of Hipsterdom”, Gavin McInnes, co-founder of VICE and now of Street Carnage acclaim – I actually want to say thank you Gavin for tracking down some of this content, namely the videos below, it’s really good stuff.). I guess, specifically, the “commercial” angle of the gallery has some people upset – frankly, I don’t care. I didn’t go there to buy anything, not only because I know I can’t afford it, but because I wouldn’t want to buy anything they had.
I went there to see things I had never seen before and would probably never get the chance to see again, because in the 80s and most of the 90s (when I “grew up“) the Internet didn’t exist and you actually had to see and do everything in person – and well, Punk was important to my youth and the youth of my peers, but even the big bands never came through town. We had to make our own scene, because the market – i.e. capitalism – of Punk in the midwest simply wasn’t sustainable for tours and sales. Simple.
So back then, when the ONE copy of Feeding of the 5,000 on vinyl came into town, it actually made headlines – we talked about it, maybe we could buy it together, and in the end I now have one of those “YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU” posters – but 90% of the content in this exhibition I had never seen before, and frankly it’s brilliant stuff. It’s necessary – to see it, read it, and appreciate it. There’s lots of text, it’s not splashy and visual – it takes time, you have to give this art your time. You have to read, to put things into context, to go back in time. It’s actually really good. Not many art shows do this anymore.
But scroll down, it gets better.
My only other comment about the exhibition is that the crowd – the punters – were genuinely into the show. Sure it was commercial, sure it was a little ridiculous overhearing the gallerist say to one of his clients or long-time sales-holes, “So this is Punk.” – but for the most part everyone was very excited with the opportunity to relive – not in a nostalgic way – the importance of this ephemera.
Not done yet.
On the flip side of things, Gavin recently recorded this interview with Penny Rimbaud which is another piece of brilliant content. Penny talks about the murder of Wally Hope, and over nearly 40 minutes explain how Crass came about due to Wally’s death:
“Without the murder of Wally Hope, you wouldn’t have Crass and without Crass you wouldn’t have anarcho punk and I often wonder where the modern anarchist movement would be like if anarcho punk had never happened.” – Gavin McInnes
Elsewhere in the world, Steve Ignorant is currently on tour, re-singing old Crass tunes – which also has some punks up in arms, thinking that their identity is being pillaged and ticketed without their consent. But he’s pretty clear, “THIS AIN’T CRASS.” It’s “Steve Ignorant Presents The Last Supper (Crass Songs 1977-1984)” – I get it. It actually makes sense. And it’s just another project, another interpretation of an idea. Even Penny Rimbaud concluded, “Initially I was quite angry at the time, but then I thought, “Oh, fucking hell. Lay off, Penny.” (from this wonderful interview)
I met Steve briefly in London in 2001, at the Victoria and Albert Museum (who own original record sleeves donated by Gee Vaucher) in South Kensington when he performed a Punch & Judy puppet performance (scroll down, Night of Leisure) – it was scathing, puppet-bloody and brutal, and brilliant. Had a very short chat with him afterwards (he won’t remember me), I simply wanted to gauge his position. He was very honest about his art, very grateful for his audience, and very questionable of authority. He was, in one word, true. I’m sure The Last Supper is no different.
Here’s a video of what the tour has to offer:
And taking advantage of current social media trends, on Steve Ignorant’s own website (which is proudly powered by WordPress I might add!), he’s asking punks of past to send in photos from their heyday to be projected on stage during the concerts – submit your pics here.
And lastly Steve talks about how The Last Supper originated, and what the purpose of this whole thing is about:
and here are the 2011 North America tour dates if you’re interested:
Thursday MARCH 10 New York, NY @ Santo’s Party House
Friday MARCH 11 Montreal, QC @ Le National
Saturday MARCH 12 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
Sunday MARCH 13 Chicago, IL @ Logan Square Auditorium
Wednesday MARCH 16 Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
Thursday MARCH 17 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
Friday MARCH 18 Pomona, CA @ Fox Theater
Tuesday March 22 Austin, TX @ Emo’s
Friday March 25 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar