Panel 1C: Aggression/Abjection/Transgression 1
Room G.17, Armstrong Building
Céline Murillo (University of Paris 13 (Sorbonne Paris Cité)
‘From Aggression to Transgression: No Wave Films and Their music’
Punk films made in New York in the late 70s are generally labelled “No Wave” films, a term derived from a second wave of American Punk music. When No Wave music is the sound track of No Wave films, what happens? The visual aesthetic can be seen as raw, while the sound can be aggressive, its melody swathed in noise. Does the sensorial aggression translate into a transgression of the norms of film style, does it go even further by transgressing social norms?
We will go from a study of the correspondence between the aesthetic of No Wave in film and music first, and then rely on examples to find out where aggression becomes transgression.
Laura Way (Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln)
‘Why punk? Exploring women’s initial exposure/attraction to punk and how this is negotiated alongside gendered ageing’
What might draw young women to punk? And how are such things negotiated (or not) over time as they age? Drawing upon qualitative interviewing with ageing punk women, this paper takes these two questions as its focus. Academically, punk has been repeatedly conceptualised as a subculture/scene underpinned by a particular set of values (see, for example, Bennett 2006, Clark 2003). The sense of ‘anyone can do it’ can be understood as part of that. In this paper I will be considering to what extent such values played a role in the initial attraction to punk experienced by the women I spoke with, and, where present, how these are maintained or adapted to allow punk identification to continue over time. Alongside this I will be discussing music, which played a key role in all of the participants’ initial exposure to punk, and their changing relationship with this. By applying a feminist lens throughout, my analysis will tease out the ways gender (Walby 1989) and gendered ageing (Gullette 2015, Twigg 2004) might present challenges for punk women with regards to both constructing and maintaining punk identities.
Renée Steffen (University of Basel)
‘Abjection in Queer Film and Video’
In my paper, I will show how the idea of “abjection” has been fundamental for queer representations in film and video of the early 1990s as also for the emergence of queer theory at the time. Abjection was understood then primarily as a tool to explore sexist, racist or homophobic distortions. It thus has been connected to emancipatory goals within academic fields as well as within artistic and curatorial strategies.
I will address artistic strategies I will summarize as “self-abjection”, a way of appropriating and re-telling conditions of social abjection through art (e.g., film and video) and activism that is influenced by personal and subjective experiences within a specific political framework. This intersection might have started in the 1980s, primarily within HIV/AIDS activism; but it was also influenced by the punk movement.
Many queer filmmakers are using “self-abjection”, I will argue, primarily via “primitive” low and no-budget (auto-)ethnographic methods in experimentation and storytelling (such as Sadie Benning, Suzie Silver, Jennifer Montgomery, Azian Nurudin, Shu Ka Chung and many others). As all of the works I will be discussing have been shown at influential art shows at the time, between 1991 and 1993 at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York, I will engage with the problem of how (or even if at all) institutions like the Whitney can participate in political activism and support subversive causes of sub- and counter-cultural movements and their perspectives.