“Ripped and Torn,” the new exhibit at the Residential College for the Arts and Humanities LookOut! Art Gallery at Michigan State University, explores different images from punk culture and how they have changed through time, arguing that “punk” has never been one thing.
The exhibit suggests that the movement has been driven by questions of identity from the beginning. It makes this argument through punk graphics from the world-renown Krivine Collection and photography and graphics by Martin Sorrondeguy.
Co-curators Tessa Paneth-Pollak, director of the LookOut!, and Kate Birdsall, assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at MSU, have compiled components of the Krivine Collection of punk graphics, one of the world's largest collections.
The collection consists of Andrew Krivine’s personal collection of punk graphic art from bands in several countries. Currently, other works from the Krivine Collection will be traveling to New York and Brussels this year in a touring exhibition organized by the Cranbrook Art Museum.
The LookOut! exhibition offers MSU students, faculty and community members a chance to experience these materials, which Krivine collected over a period of about forty years, first-hand.
From screen-print designs to hand-drawn fan promotions, the exhibit showcases an array of artwork that punk culture has influenced in today’s pop culture. The images show an in-depth history of what it means to be punk. These definitions have changed in several ways throughout time, and these changes are best explained through the graphics that portray the bands and icons in the punk culture.
“Initially, the exhibition was only going to draw on works from the Krivine Collection," said Paneth-Pollak. "But thanks to the work of my RCAH colleague Estrella Torrez, Chicago-based artist and photographer Martin Sorrondeguy will be in residence at RCAH from April 14-20.”
The graphics and photography by Sorrondeguy go hand-in-hand with the theme of the LookOut! Art Gallery exhibit, Paneth-Pollak said. His work focuses on the cultural diversity that is not always at the forefront of histories of punk culture. His photographs capture moments of Latinx punk artists attending and performing at shows, encapsulating their large presence within punk culture. His images show the diverse bodies of punk behind the colorful graphics and promotional materials.
“Sorrondeguy is incredibly skilled at capturing punks in action,” Paneth-Pollak said. “His works provide an embodied sense of the U.S. punk scene from the late 1980s to the present. While his photographs document, his posters and flyers invite black, brown, queer and non-conforming bodies of all kinds to shows and dance parties.”
The images on display in "Ripped and Torn" explore the meaning of being punk and how political, social and cultural influences changed what it means to be a punk.
“This show will appeal to a range of people, including punks themselves, fans, scholars, graphic-design nerds and basically anyone who has an interest in intersectionality and art,” said Birdsall, who currently teaches a punk culture course, IAH208: Punk-Rock Politics: Subversion and Anarchy in Youth Culture.
"Ripped and Torn: Punk at the Intersection" runs until Wednesday, April 17. Birdsall, will give a talk at 3 p.m., on April 11 in the LookOut!
The closing reception will take place in the LookOut! on from 4 to 7 p.m., April 16, with closing remarks by Martin Sorrondeguy at 4:30 p.m.
The RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery is located in the Residential College for the Arts and Humantities, on the second floor of Snyder-Phillips Hall on MSU's campus. The gallery is open from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as from 5 to 8 p.m. on Fridays. The LookOut! is always free and all are welcome.