Whilst I was “stranded” in New York, I tried to make use of the time wisely by cramming in some exhibitions namely the Tim Burton retrospective at MOMA. Sadly that was a little disappointing given the confined exhibition space and overcrowding. I wish therefore that I could have seen something that probably won’t garner half the crowd but is nonetheless just as fascinating.
At the pop-up gallery Boo-Hurray in Chelsea, New York is exhibiting a selection of punk-era collage/montage work by the author Jon Savage (England’s Dreaming, Teenage) and visual artist Linder Sterling.
Their art fanzine “The Secret Public” published in Manchester in 1978 and ensuing publications was a collaborative visual diary of the first-wave of punk as well as being part of a self-publishing wave where you had hundreds of zines in places like Rough Trade. The exhibition also includes flyers, posters and other printed memorabilia connected with seminal bands such a the Buzzcocks, Joy Division and the legendary Factory Records circa 197701980. It also documents the urban decay going on in London and Manchester, photographed by Savage.
In particular Sterling’s work has a meta-femininst tract that is intriguing to see in its rawest and earliest form which later manifests itself into her visual and installation work as well as most recently, a fashion context exemplified by her prints collaboration with fashion designer Richard Nicoll.
I love the visceral and precise nature of Savage and Sterling’s montages collated in the exhibition. It brings into question the physical qualities of print that as Savage points out are great snapshots of a particular era and whether online information can be stored and cherished in the same way as say, these montages. Do you necessarily feel the same sort of nostalgia towards an archived webpage as you do towards a printed collage where you know hours worth of scalpel paper cutting have gone towards?
Linder Sterling and Jon Savage: The Secret Public, Boo Hooray Galleryc/o Steven Kasher Gallery, 521 West 23rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, Manhattan, NYC
Exhibition dates: May 10th – May 23rd, 2010