Famed photographer and musician collaborate on book
Both will appear at Greenpoint book launch
Both a book and a traveling exhibition of photographs, “Hard Art, DC 1979” (Trade Cloth, Pub. date June 4), presents Lucian Perkins’ snapshots of the 1979 music scene in Washington, DC. That year, a soon-to-erupt punk scene took hold in DC, with bands like the Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, Teen Idles, the Untouchables, and the Slickee Boys, among others, at the forefront. Perkins, who later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Washington Post, was then an intern who photographed several pivotal shows over a short period of time. His now iconic photos of these shows are complemented by punk rock musician Alec MacKaye’s narrative that runs throughout the book and an essay by Henry Rollins.
Both Perkins and MacKaye will appear in Brooklyn on June 19 to celebrate and discuss the inception of their book and exhibition. In 1995, Lely Constantinople was hired by Perkins to manage his extensive photographic collection spanning a twenty-five year career with the Post. While looking through negatives in his basement, she found the punk images and recognized MacKaye, her then boyfriend (now husband). She asked to make contact sheets to show him, thinking he might recognize himself and others, and was surprised by how excited MacKaye was to see the images. “Those pictures were the holy grail! Not that many people brought cameras to shows then so I always wondered who he was and what happened to the pictures he took. He was at some of the best shows.”
MacKaye’s text offers an intimate exploration of the moment from two perspectives: that of a fourteen-year-old experiencing music on his own terms for the first time, and a look again at a movement that fueled an underground generation musically and philosophically. His examination is not a nostalgic review of glory days gone, as much as a present conversation about the continuation of a way of thinking that still endures. “Hard Art, DC 1979” is an intimate snapshot of “the time before the time” that punk rock found firm footing in the U.S. These images capture the cathartic, infectious energy present in any group of people who seek to change their communities through music and art.
The June 19 event will begin at 7 p.m. WORD is located at 126 Franklin St. in Greenpoint.
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Lucian Perkins, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, worked as a staff photographer for the Washington Post for twenty-seven years until 2007. While at the Post, Perkins covered many of the major events of the time, including Russia since 1988, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, Perkins is an independent photographer and videographer concentrating on multimedia projects and video documentaries while still pursuing his love for the still image. He is also the cofounder of Facing Change: Documenting America, a collective of ten photographers who are documenting the issues facing the United States.
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Alec MacKaye is a singer and musician best known for his bands the Untouchables, Faith, Ignition and the Warmers. In more recent years, MacKaye has focused on other artistic pursuits such as painting and writing.