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“In All Our Decadence People Die” Show on Canal Displays Old-School Fanzines
This past Friday night, we slipped into our best steel-toe boots and hoofed it on over to the opening of “In All Our Decadence People Die,” an exhibition of 70s and 80s fanzines and original art collected at the infamous Dial House. The home of UK anarchist punk band Crass, Dial House, a creative center and “intentional community” located in Essex, England, has been around since the late 60s and still exists today. This current exhibit, housed at Boo-Hooray on Canal Street, is drawn from the Crass/Dial archives, which consists of about 3,000 ‘zines and related ephemera.
Despite the UK origins of this artwork, and much of it focused on British authority figures in the form of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher, the evening felt like a step back in time to the East Village of the late 70s and early 80s.
Here in the US, punk political statements veered more towards Ron and Nancy. But on both sides of the pond, Sid and Nancy ruled, and a common design style evolved. Those familiar with the pre-Tompkins Square riot era will recognize the distinctively rebellious graphics utilizing the antediluvian media of xeroxes, stencils, and collage.
Those of a younger vintage might need a history lesson to grasp the fact that no electrons were harmed and no wrists were carpal’ed in the making of these political artworks, because, well, Photoshop didn’t exist back then and mice were merely rodents. Though we’re sure that there were some serious injuries resulting from the use of exacto knives under the influence.
As much as we loved the show, it was a bit torturous that the myriad fanzines were jailed behind glass, preventing the tactile experience of flipping through the pages. Indeed, getting our fingers dirty from the newsprint would have triggered a lot of Proustian punk rock memories.
Running until October 20th, the exhibit is at Boo-Hooray’s Project Space at 265 Canal Street, #601. A catalog of the exhibit (edition of 250 copies) is also available along with a 7″ record by Crass/Dial archives founder Penny Rimbaud and Louise Elliott, with cover art by Gee Vaucher.
-Written by Lori Greenberg