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MOCAtv: The Art of Punk

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In Partnership with MOCAtvMOCAtv is a new, contemporary art video channel, developed as a digital extension of the education and exhibition programming of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

I'm not sure why, but the art has always been the lasting impression upon me when it comes to punk rock and the punk scene in general. It's like a real snapshot of deep feelings and emotional impact that speaks louder to me than any of the music ever did. I jumped at the opportunity to create films behind the stories of inspiration and creation of such iconic punk symbols and sleeves from the punk scene. Black Flag, Crass and the Dead Kennedys were at the top of my list for sure. Raymond Pettibon, Dave King, and Winston Smith have long inspired me along with other artists born out of the scene like Mad Marc Rude, Gary Panter, Shawn Kerri, Tim Kerr, Randy Turner and so many others. It was a dream project for me.

I had no idea at the time we began filming that there was so much more to each of their stories than I could have imagined. I'm sure my mouth was wide open too much of the time while conducting the interviews: Henry Rollins, Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski were amazing laying out their own feelings of what the art and four bar logo meant to themselves, as well as how Raymond Pettibon is viewed as an honorary member of the band for coming up with the name and the iconic four bar symbol depicting an anarchistic flag waving in the wind. The turmoil between Raymond and founding member, guitar player and primary songwriter Gregg Ginn, are that of mythical proportion. The legendary CRASS symbol predating the actual band itself was a shock to me. The Dave King snake and cross design was initially intended as a symbol for an independent pamphlet release written by Penny Rimbaud who later went on to form CRASS and the symbol was re-appropriated for the band, so the symbol came first! The interconnection between Jello Biafra and Winston Smith, who created almost all of the art for the Dead Kennedys, was intense; it was hard to figure out where Winston started and Jello ended. The art being a huge part of the overall message of the punk scene itself is depicted clearly in the film when Jello Biafra talks of how he saw a piece by Winston Smith and tells us, "Wow, that's dangerous, I want to use that on my next album. Now I just have to go and write the songs!"

Above, you can watch the first installment of MOCAtv's Art of Punk series highlighting the art of Black Flag, including the works of Raymond Pettibon and featuring interviews with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Henry Rollins, and Keith Morris.

The next episodes will be feature Winston Smith collaboration with the Dead Kennedys on May 25 and the art of snarling U.K. punkers Crass on June 18. Tune in to MOCAtv!

Below are some seldom seen fliers and ephemera pulled from the archives for MOCAtv's documentaries:

Henry Rollins | Photo: Atiba Jefferson.
Henry Rollins. | Photo: Atiba Jefferson.

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