The photos in Hard Art are electrifying and timeless. I realized Lucian’s work was truly transcendent when I showed the photos to a coworker who has no interest whatsoever in punk rock and the guy was absolutely mesmerized. Regardless of the subject matter, photography of this caliber cuts through all lines of culture and class. I couldn’t be more proud to have my company’s logo on the back of this book, and I know without a doubt that the audience for the book stretches across the planet.
—Johnny Temple, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Akashic Books—
HARD ART DC 1979, a touring exhibition and book, brings alive the birth of the Washington, DC punk scene and its lasting impact on music and culture worldwide. Featuring photographs by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lucian Perkins Hard Art DC 1979 offers a singular, close-up view of a thriving, underground scene in obscure art coops and performance spaces of the nation’s capital in stark contrast to the concurrent stirrings of the Reagan presidency. His photographs reveal the energy and passion of a small rebellious movement inspired by then unknown bands such as the Bad Brains and the Teen Idles. From these musicians a music and do-it-yourself philosophy evolved that went on to influence future bands and global audiences giving HARD ART DC 1979 a broad, intergenerational appeal. Show flyers from legendary, long-closed venues and other ephemera documenting the scene contextualize Perkins’ arresting silver-gelatin and other large-scale black and white photographs.
In his Washington Post review, Mark Jenkins affirms, “They almost seem to break the fourth wall between image and observer, just as hardcore crashed the barrier between musician and listener.”
The book and exhibition present narrative writing from Alec MacKaye, an influential singer and musician cum writer whose front man energy in bands such as the Untouchables, Ignition, Faith and The Warmers inspired artists and bands such as Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam. An essay by former Black Flag singer Henry Rollins about The Teen Idles, a band featuring Alec’s brother Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens), describes the power of these early shows and the dedication of young people to their craft and their desire to make something happen despite the obstacles. HARD ART DC 1979 (Akashic Books) will be published in June 2013. The exhibition will tour the U.S., Europe and Asia.