Room G.15, Armstrong Building
Benedict Quilter (Co-Founder Independent Woman Records, NZ) – ‘Oedipus Rex: On the Myth Of Transgression In Noise Music’
S & M, Rape, Paedophilia, “Nazi aesthetics” and Sexism are as common place in fashion as they are in noise music, so why is it that those involved in so called “transgressive” art think they are subverting expectations?
In a world of normalized right wing conspiracy theories being broadcast on international news cycles where is the subversion in appropriating the iconography of the right?
Since the birth of punk in the 70s through to the birth of Industrial the lack of critical depth involved in analyzing these “subcultures” has led to a groundswell of hack artists looking to the past, exhuming Genet and Artaud and proliferating second rate nihilism. Underground currents of the 60s and 70s sought to open up the parameters of sound and vision and question established modes of looking at the world.
Writing poetry about submission and sexual humiliation with your girlfriend it seems has become the noise music equivalent of advertising for a “third” sex partner on a dating site. This talk will look at the history of these tropes in noise/underground and look at why in 2019 power electronics/industrial culture has merely been reanimated with any semblance of “cultural critique” having died off long ago.
Adam Soper (Newcastle University)
‘Swastika Girls: The Use of Nazi Imagery in Popular (Oc)culture and the Neo-folk’
This paper seeks to examine the uses of Nazi imagery in popular culture, focusing specifically on the Neo-folk movement. Neo-folk was born out of the British punk and industrial music scenes of the 1980s made up of bands such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Crisis. Artists associated with the movement such as Death In June, Boyd Rice, and Current 93 have all included Nazi imagery into their work, leaving open a question if there is a systemic neo-Nazi presence in the neo-folk genre.
Extending from Jon Stratton’s account of the relationship between Jews and the holocaust within punk and glam music, this study seeks to give potential readings of the use of Nazi imagery in Neo-folk. It will explore beyond the, perhaps, simplistic reading that Nazi imagery is used for ‘shock value’ or that the work is produced by Nazi sympathisers. And, if work is produced by Nazi-sympathisers, (a question difficult to answer, concerning some groups, such as Death in June) what can the political left do to reinterpret the art and imagery to understand it through a lens of cultural trauma and coming to terms with the Holocaust? Taking into account the Swastikas multiple meanings throughout history (a good luck symbol in Ancient Rome, a peace sign in Hinduism), this paper asks is there a limit to the hijacking and repurposing of symbols by the left? If so, is the swastika that limit?
James Anderson (University of Sunderland)
‘Punk, Porn, and Politics: Pornographic Profanity in British First-Wave Punk’
This paper examines first-wave British punk’s articulations of an aesthetic language of ‘noise’ in the profane. In doing so, the paper considers the utilisation of pornographic imagery as an attempt at rupture, through at attack on ‘sacred’ conservative Middle-England values in the late-1970s. As has been well-documented, the clothing designed by Vivien Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and sold at their SEX boutique, and the later Seditionaries, were explicitly concerned pornographic images and fetish-wear including latex and bondage materials, constitutive of a ‘radical’ statement in the context of youth cultural fashions and against the norms of the period. Whilst Westwood and McLaren Whilst designs such as ‘naked cowboys’ T-shirt have been understood as an attempt to ‘shock’ indicative of punk’s attempts at provocation, their interests in fetish-ware assert a more complex relationship with icons of the sacred, as seen in their BDSM imagery, and the themes of punishment and redemption in early punk. Further, a parallel engagement with the ‘noise’ of the pornographic body is considered in the pornographic forays of Cosey Fanni Tutti, and her various art actions with Hull art collective COUM Transmissions. I discuss the culmination of Tutti’s ‘porn-as-art’ project with the notorious 1976 Prostitution show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which sparked outrage in conservative British circles; leading to the group being branded the ‘wreckers of civilisation’ in the Houses of Parliament. Through the comparison of these case studies, I proffer that whereas sexual imagery was invoked as a profane statement within Westwood-McLaren designs to ‘index a general social taboo’ (Court 2018), the work of these Tutti and COUM blurred the boundaries between pornography and art—mediating upon the sacred nature of the female body—using provocation to highlight patriarchal structures and deconstruct consumerist representations of women in British society of the late-1970s.