LONDON///INSTITUTIONALIZED///GOD SAVE THE GALLERY…

August 16, 2007  |  Uncategorized

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Jamie Reid's legendary original Sex Pistols artwork...

2007 marks the thirty year anniversary of one of punk rock's most celebrated landmarks, the release of the Sex Pistols' debut album, "Never Mind the Bollocks...," and artist Jamie Reid's equally legendary and (at the time) incendiary imagery that accompanied it. Celebrating the depressed and debauched era that spawned the musical genre, London's BARBICAN CENTRE has staged what could best be described as a lopsided retrospective of art in the era of Punk, "Panic Attack!: Art in the Punk Years." Make no mistake, this is not a show OF punk artists but rather an exhibit exploring artists working IN and AROUND the era of punk in the late 1970s and early '80s in Britain and the United States, at a time when both countries were a breeding ground for the volatile subcultures of punk and post-punk. For this reason, the museum might have rethought its misleading title (we can imagine a LOT of uninformed viewers leaving disappointed), or at least readjusted its curatorial choices to more accurately reflect it. According to the institution, "Although the punk movement is largely defined by its music, fashion and graphics, this exhibition exposes the art scene that emerged during these years most notably in London, New York and Los Angeles, and features important works by over 30 artists [with some VERY questionable omissions such as Vivienne Westwood–how is that possible?], including Jamie Reid, Raymond Pettibon, Nan Goldin, Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, Paul McCarthy, Robert Longo, David Wojnarowicz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Genesis P-Orridge. What's the unifying thread of this admittedly hypertalented lot, you ask? All have achieved great success in the Capitol "A" art world since their days in the trenches and seemed destined to from the start. What we're really missing here in this "A-lister" mix are the true underground artists of the time like Gee Vaucher and Winston Smith who were most closely attached to the genre of punk in its purest form and created some of its most defining images. For what it's worth, it should be noted that far from being an exhibit of punk ephemera or memorabilia (don't expect to see record covers or clothing from Sex), the show specifically showcases artists chronicling the cultural and social climate of the turbulent era rather than ones driving the look and feel of Punk as a movement and genre. "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"...

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The venerated Barbican Centre in London as shot by Steve J

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So that's where Eddie Van Halen got the look from...

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Linder, "Untitled," 1977

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Black Flag flyer by Raymond Pettibon

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Cerith Wyn Evans, film still from "Epiphany," 1984

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Barbara Kruger, "Untitled," 1982

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Cindy Sherman, "Untitled Film Still, #15," 1978

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Nan Goldin, "Self-Portrait," (after suffering domestic abuse), 1978

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Robert Mapplethorpe, "Patti Smith," 1975

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Still from Derek Jarman's Super 8 film, Jordan's Dance, 1977

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Detail of Jamie Reid's original "God Save The Queen" collage...

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Nan Goldin, "Greer and Robert in the bed, NYC," from the "Ballad of Sexual Dependancy" series, 1982

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Cosey Fanni Tutti, COUM Transmissions, press release/poster for Prostitution, 1976

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Tony Oursler, "The Loner," 1980

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Robert Longo, "Untitled (Joe)," 1981

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Stephen Willats, "Every Day and Every Night," 1984

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David Wojnarowicz, photo from the Arthur Rimbaud in New York series, 1978–79

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