Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Contextual Studies: What can be labeled as Punk?

When it comes to Punk the stereotypical image that is conjured in one's head is that of a person dressed in leather complete with Mohawk, piercings and a bad attitude. This shouldn't be the case as at the time (1970s) to be punk was to rebel against certain aspects of society and to break free of what you felt oppressed you. So in what relevance does this have to art?

Jamie Reid's art for "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols.

So now that we've established what a rough definition of "Punk" can be lets look at an example of punk art work of the era. Above is Jamie Reid art work for the cover to the single "God Save the Queen", a song about the state of the goverment and monarchy. The image depicts the Queen Elizabeth II with her eyes and mouth covered by font, possibly representing the fact that she is no more than a figure head within society (as mentioned within the song). This image made a large amount of comotion at the time as no-one has defaced the queen make this quite the rebellious image. Another piece of artwork that created a stir in both the public and media was the portrait of Myra Hindley consisting of painted hands of children (see image below), as the subject combined with the method of creation was something that many people saw in bad taste. But surely this can be recognised as punk as it goes against what people consider acceptable and there in lies it's categorisation as it is a rebellion against acceptability, but was it made to purposefully upset people?

The portrait of Myra Hind by Marcus Harvey.

But in colleration to music what can be labelled as punk as an image to connect oneself to an aspect of pop-culture and as things evolve and develop, punk has grown into more of an image style than a statement. As the music has changed so has the artwork used to represent it, with bands creating music that seems to try out due each other, or bring in other influences from other genres it seems that punk has become distorted from what it used to be. Below is an image by artist Dan Mumford for a cover to "In the Belly Of the Shark" single by the British band Gallows. The image is a huge contrast to the make-shift and basic "anyone can do it" attitude of the "God Save the Queen" cover, The image shows tight lines and understanding of colour and composition this shows the evolution from the humble beginnings of punk's "D.I.Y." philosophy to something a lot more complex and this is also reflecting in the music.

Dan Mumford's cover to "In the Belly of the Shark".

In the modern world where everyone wants to be famous and out do each other it's increasingly difficult to define what is Punk as everyone is try to do something themselves or apply other essences of things to another taking many things and putting them together and at the moment truly the only thing that would be rebellious is to try to do something such as televise live murder. Society has experienced punk and has has it's rebellious age but now to do anything on a grand scale is either madness or stupid and the only type of rebellion that is present are small ones like swapping price tags in a shop. In short Punk is rebellion of any sort against anything you could think of be it styles of music, art, clothing and come up with you're own solutions to these objects of culture.

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