Curating the Collection: Cecilia Adwell
The West Coast of the United States has long served as a breeding ground for counter culture movements. California, in particular, has been a haven for losers, weirdos, punks and the artists who love them. Filth ‘n’ Fury explores the visual cues used to signify occurrences of American transgression and representations of those who live life outside of mainstream societal norms. The artworks in the exhibition relate to each other through their shared use of stark black and white contrasting imagery that references and documents a culture that is subversive to American pop-culture. The works in Filth ’n’ Fury use recognizable images but change their context to represent a seemingly dark human experience.
Bruce Conner’s, 27 Punk Photos: Dim Wanker: F-Word 1978, (1978) is an action shot of singer and guitarist Dim Wanker during a San Francisco concert. The protagonist seemingly hovers above the audience amidst the energy and anguish of what is the California Punk Rock scene. Connor’s work during this time documents an important era of music culture in San Francisco and immortalizes Punk Rock culture.
Catherine Opie’s photograph Raven (Gun), (1989) depicts a bare-breasted, spikey-haired woman pointing a gun at something outside of the frame. Her bare chest body is adorned with small tattoos and a chain that connects her nipple piercings. The violent tone of Raven (Gun) combined with subjects from the BDSM community is common in Opie’s early work. As in much of Opie’s portraiture the subject is unapologetic yet markedly and most importantly human, regardless of accouterment and proclivity.
Raymond Pettibon is closely tied to the punk band Black Flag, and played a significant role in creating their visual imagery. Pettibon has become a cult icon of the punk movement, while still very much part of the mainstream art world. Working with bands like the Dead Kennedys and The Ramones, Pettibon developed an edgy imagery that featured erotic, political, and sacrilegious themes. The End One, has an apocalyptic overtone and is full with an excited and chaotic energy. The color choice and loose style of Pettibon’s works lend to a raw aesthetic, simple in form and rebellious in message.
Juan Capistran uses appropriation and conceptualization to address issues of the political and the social. In his practice he references both hip-hop and punk culture. Capistran often mixes ideologies in order to question and express ideas of rebellion, identity, and class. In White Minority, Capistran combines high and low culture by referencing the work of abstract expressionist Frank Stella set atop the logo for the band Black Flag’s. White Minority is represented in this exhibition by a photographic reproduction atop a repetitive wall text in the form of a flyer. This treatment is meant to reflect the chaotic aesthetic of the punk venues in the Bay Area. The drawing, cutting, pasting, and copying of these wall labels mirrors the same process punk bands have embraced to promote themselves. This display serves to celebrate the history of subversive and non-traditional subcultures in California.
Filth ‘n’ Fury was curated by Cecilia Lynn Adwell.
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All installation images for Filth ‘n’ Fury were photographed by Johnna Arnold.