“I was thinking that there had to be women in the 18th century who wanted to live strongly. So I designed what I imagined this type of woman would have worn, and called it ‘18th-Century Punk’.” - Rei Kawakubo
Last night I had the opportunity to see a screening of She Said Boom – a documentary about the Canadian all girl band Fifth Column. These girls are everything I stand for and am inspired by: collaboration, feminist ethics, fighting the system, living for what you’re passionate about with little concern for money. Their story inspired so many others and lead to what became the Riot Grrl movement in the 90′s. They were also intensely interested in filmmaking and created lots of experimental work with Bruce LaBruce. GB Jones is a total icon, that thick red wavy hair and perfect vamptress aesthetic. It was a great film and if you have the chance to see it in your city, you must!
HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
Sini Anderson directed this documentary about Kathleen Hanna’s (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin) life, and it’s inspired me every day since I watched it: A woman that started out making grassroots efforts with her spoken word poetry, was responsible for crafting the riot grrrl movement in the 90′s- an important player of punk rock feminism, and has performed some of the most powerful and unafraid performances I’ve ever seen. Her unwillingness to backdown or shut up makes her a wildfire, and it was a hugely visceral experience as both an artist and a woman when I watched this film. Find out if it’s playing in big cities near you, or rent it on itunes!
The power of music is uncompromising. Fuck guns! You really want to make a statement? Pick up a guitar and write some lyrics. Just 30 seconds of an unauthorized performance has started a worldwide following, sent 3 girls to jail, influenced Madonna to perform with their name written on her bare back and inspired an award-winning documentary.
I just watched the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer which aired on HBO. As I grow older, I am becoming increasingly connected to feminism and anti-authoritarian themes; perhaps because my blinders are being diminished as I see more truths unfold before me.
Here’s some backstory on the collective: Pussy Riot is an all-girl punk band that writes songs about feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin (whom they regard as a dictator) and links between the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin. They oppose the marriage of church and state. Their costumes consist of brightly colored dresses and tights, with their faces masked by balaclavas.
On February 21, 2012, five members of the group staged an unsanctioned concert on the soleas of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their demonstration was quickly halted by church security officials. This protest was directed at the Orthodox Church leader’s support for Putin during his election campaign.
Three of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and charged with hooliganism. Denied bail, they were held in custody until their trial began in late July. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and each was sentenced to two years jail-time. On October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation, her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld. In late October 2012, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were separated and sent to prison. They both have small children.
It’s a powerful story, and although physically detained, their message has been heard and is screaming into the ears of the whole world. I admire their courage, risks, and willingness to take a stand- such dedication without boundaries is the way to change; not just politically, but in any area of life.
“All you can deprive me of is “so-called” freedom. This is the only kind that exists in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom. It lives in the word, it will go on living thanks to openness, when this will be read and heard by thousands of people. This freedom goes on living with every person who is not indifferent, who hears us in this country. With everyone who found shards of the trial in themselves, like in previous times they found them in Franz Kafka and Guy Debord. I believe that I have honesty and openness, I thirst for the truth; and these things will make all of us just a little bit more free. We will see this yet.” – Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina
If you want to hear the incredibly eloquent closing statements of the women, you may read them in full HERE - I highly recommend it!
“I’m not chic: I could never be chic” – Sid Vicious
So last night was the Met Gala – celebrating the opening of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibition and I’m feeling strongly about it. It’s my understanding that there was to be a merging of punk + luxury. Apparently, celebrities took this as a cue to wear more eyeliner than usual and maybe dye their hair a different shade for the night if feeling *particularly* ballsy.
So, during this GALA “in the name of punk” (LOLZ ROFL LMAO) guests included: Kim Kardashian (who looked god awful in head-to-toe-and-finger-floral) and Kanye, Beyonce, Kate Bosworth, Taylor Swift (with a pink streak in her hair! SOPUNKROCK), Katie Holmes, Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, that “Gangnam Style” guy, Jessica Alba (wearing designer Tory Burch aka the bane of my existence), J-Lo and others. I couldn’t think of less edgy guests if I tried! Just kidding I could. Coldplay guy. He was there. THIS IS THE HEIGHT OF POP CULTURE IN 2013 HOW EMBARRASSING.
“Looking at the pictures from the MET Gala made me feel really weird. Like I was watching tailgaters at a Dave Matthews concert reminisce about how the early punk era and aesthetic has influenced their lifestyle and point of view. Actually it just sorta looked like a dELIA*s catalogue with models doing punk signs.” – my dear friend Jason Haaf
I personally feel very attached to punk themes- and I feel like last night was a display of cringeworthy theatrics when there is so much depth behind the concept. It created a similar feeling in me as when I’ve viewed old footage of a white person imitating other ethnicities- like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I certainly don’t claim to be a punk- but youthful rebellion, anti-authoritarian ideologies, and DIY ethics resonate with me in an inmost way.
It angers me that all of these rich celebrities have access to the hands of our world’s most innovative fashion designers- they could have created such spectacular statements- and yet they looked like they were off to prom in the suburbs. It’s a bigger problem than what dress they had on- it’s the android expression being pumped out by agencies that worries me. I’m so bored of everyone playing it safe and being “lovely”. Where are the artists that push through confines and take chances? The fashion scene is characterless these days- especially in the US. At least Blondie performed!
And the one person actually associated with punk was cut off and censored, naturally. Viv was supporting Bradley Manning- a United States Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to WikiLeaks: Here was an actual human with a real message; not just a talking head; and people didn’t want to hear it- they’d rather look at KIMYE.
Here are some memorable quotes via Twitter throughout the evening:
“The much-anticipated Kim Kardashian wears head-to-finger floral Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci.” – Style.com
“I’m feeling so good and so punk.” - Miley Cyrus in Marc Jacobs/Style.com
“Suzy Sue was the inspiration for January Jones’ beauty look.” – The Cut (LITERALLY WROTE SUZY SUE)
There were a few good looks, but I don’t feel like many really nailed the combination of punk WITH luxury- and even the ones that did were playing it safe. There were some really awesome looks, but these are the only ones I think did a good job of capturing the theme.
Anyway, I had a bit of a manic-meltdown and heatedly exclaimed, “I NEED TO SEE MORE!” and then I researched haute couture over the past decade and made a giant collage and now it’s 1 in the morning.
So yeah, any of the following options would have been acceptable in my bratty opinion. I’m sorry, but there’s merit to what I’m saying, and no one that was or is a part of the punk movement would be content with how this charade was executed! It’s just annoying because the star-studded spectacle is exactly what this movement has tried to avoid. There used to be iconic performers that wanted to change things and it was powerful. Now they’re so manufactured and vacant. It’s kinda sad that Lady Gaga is the only one that does anything outside of the ordinary, and even she’s a total puppet.
Here’s an alternate universe if a punk gala was done RIGHT. (Also, there would be performances by some cool bands and not Kanye West floundering about).
Couture by: McQueen, John Galliano, Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix and like one thing from Chanel because I don’t care for Chanel couture very much.
“It’s about trying to change the world, not just jumping around and spitting.” – Vivienne Westwood
“You know what style is? Truth and energy. Iggy Pop’s the most stylish person in the world and he’s naked all of the time. Style is the raw power of the truth” – Jimmy Web
“We wanted to strip everything down further, away from the showbiz theatricality of the glitter bands, and away from bluesiness and boogie. We wanted to be stark and hard and torn up, the way the world was” - Richard Hell
My favorite photo shoot I’ve done in a while, I call this series “Jubilee Girls” (based on the British punk film Jubilee by Derek Jarman- and we also had a little This is England theme going on.) I shot these awesome, beautiful women in Miami at renowned British pub Churchill’s (where tons of punk, metal and noise bands have played over the years); as well as in the Wynwood area of Miami against the artist murals and graffiti. I used my Nikon N65 and expired, grainy Kodak film.