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Survey looking at the way Punk culture used the language of sexuality on view at the Museum of Sex
Installation view.


NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Sex is presenting Punk Lust: Raw Provocation 1971-1985, a survey looking at the way Punk culture used the language of sexuality–both visually and lyrically–to transgress and defy, whether in the service of political provocation, raw desire, or just to break through the stifling gender norms and social expectations that punks refused to let define them. The exhibition is co-curated by cultural critic Carlo McCormick, journalist, writer and musician Vivien Goldman and Lissa Rivera of the Museum of Sex, among other supporters and is on view through November 30th 2019.

Featuring over 300 artifacts, including ephemera, original artworks, film, and garments worn by punk legends—the exhibition includes a wide selection from archives and private collections set within an immersive installation and soundscape. Punk lust was an expression of revolt, representing both an upheaval of what youth, beauty, and fun should look like and a more personal abnegation of self. Punk sexuality played with stereotypes, upended expectations, and confronted the latent repressive and puritanical morality within the society of spectacle. Influenced and often supported by the 1970s’ booming sex industry, Punk incubated in abandoned cities like New York, London, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where youth culture was left unattended and given license to explore the forbidden boundaries of casual contact in an era before AIDS. The young women born from punk were fearless and fierce; while the men were at once averse to the clichés of cock-rock and inflected by the prior expressions of Glam and the emergence of a radical queer culture. Punk lust was urgent, necessary, born as much from boredom as desire. Or in the words of Johnny Rotten, lead singer of The Sex Pistols: “Love is two minutes and fifty-two seconds of squelching noises.”

Thematically, the exhibition looks at the instigating seeds of proto-punk in “Bad Influences,” the raucous use of explicit language and visuals in “Rebellion and Provocation,” the upending of the rock-hero model in “Idols of Perversity,” and the ruination of heteronormative stereotypes in “Deconstructing Gender.” Other themes include “Art and Film,” which brought the DIY ethos of Punk and pornography to galleries and underground theaters, and “Sex/Work,” exploring the sex industry’s role as space to experiment (and a source of steady income) for inquisitive artists. Finally, “Fetish & Fashion” explores the everyday incorporation of bondage wear, as a way of bringing the explicit and forbidden out from behind closed doors and into the street. Highlights include a New York Dolls-era leather jacket once owned by Johnny Thunders, SEX Originals and Seditionaries garments from the Estate of Malcolm McLaren, costumes worn by the Sic F*cks (aka Tish & Snooky of Manic Panic), and a lipstick-kissed letter from legendary groupie Sable Starr. The walls are packed with rare concert flyers, posters, badges, photographs, and record covers exploiting every kind of taboo.

Curators: Carlo McCormick, cultural critic and curator; Lissa Rivera, artist and Curator, Museum of Sex; Vivien Goldman, 'Punk Professor' at New York University, musician, and author of Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot (forthcoming May 2019, University of Texas Press), with British fashions curated by Young Kim, Director of the Estate of Malcolm McLaren, and a special selection of films curated by internationally exhibited artist and curator Tessa Hughes-Freeland, along with Inês Teles Carvalhal, Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Sex.





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