Punk rock is a rare music genre. It becomes the identity of its fans; they don't just listen to punk, they become punks, and many stay that way well into adulthood.
I became a punk at 12. Two decades later, I still rock black-and-white band t-shirts and walk around with my headphones on, the Misfits and Black Flag blasting in my ears.
The magic of being punk is that it licenses a certain freedom from social norms. Thinking back to the moment when I realized I could just do what I wanted still feels as freeing and uplifting now as it did back then. The power and drive that freedom inspires on full display in the show Void California: 1975-1989, curated by CCA's graduating curatorial practice class at the Wattis Institute.
The core of the punk ethos is "just go for it," an attitude demonstrated in the prolific output of Raymond Pettibon, patron saint of punk art. His zines, paintings and drawings dominate the Void California show, but with good reason. Pettibon's work for Black Flag is iconic, and his style -- menacing ink figures accompanied by disjointed phrases -- conveyed the urban experience during a dangerous and desperate time.
The exhibit paints a comprehensive picture of what the spectrum of punk art looked like in the 14 years represented. On one side is the work intended to shock: the graphic photography of Vile magazine and the crude, Ralph Steadman-like drawings of Fred Tomaselli.