Wednesday 14 December: Opening of Image As Virus: Better Badges In The Punk Era

WHAT’S YOUR RUPTURE and THE COLLOQUIUM FOR UNPOPULAR CULTURE present:
IMAGE AS VIRUS: BETTER BADGES IN THE PUNK ERA
WHEN: 14 December 2016 – 5 January 2017
WHERE: 80 Washington Square East Gallery Project Space [at West 4th Street]
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Opening Party: Wednesday 14 December 2016, 5pm onwards 
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“My heart’s my badge….”
IMAGE AS VIRUS: BETTER BADGES IN THE PUNK ERA is the first-ever exhibition devoted to punk badges. It focusses on Better Badges, a small but culturally crucial company formed by Joly MacFie (b.1950) in West London, that created the very first punk badge in 1976 and went on to produce an estimated 40 million pins over the next six years. The show will include original badges designed by artists such as Jamie Reid, Peter Fischli and Linder Sterling and rarely-seen original merchandise by key bands such as Subway Sect, The Modern Lovers, The Clash, Ramones, Crass, Suicide, Joy Division, DAF, The Raincoats and The Sex Pistols.
Better Badges – its founding principle ‘Image As Virus, Elitism For All’ – was set up by MacFie, a former member of Hawkwind, roadie for The Pink Fairies and Stars (the Syd Barrett/ Twink supergroup), and fellow traveller of England’s counterculture and free festival movements. Inspired by punk’s world-turned-upside-down ethos, and keen to make fans as important as performers, his revolutionary company quickly succeeded in making badges – alongside the Xerox, the dual-cassette tape recorder, and pirate radio – vital elements of late 1970s DIY culture.
Fans of tiny bands excluded from mainstream media could now turn themselves into cultural transmitters, broadcasting their latest obsessions to friends and passers-by alike. Their badges were markers of personal identity, of rebellion, of passion as fashion. They were striking, topical, often witty. MacFie created some, while others were designed by the bands and even the fans. Punk bible the New Musical Express published a chart of the week’s bestselling pins. Better Badges employees included a young Neneh Cherry.
IMAGE AS VIRUS: BETTER BADGES IN THE PUNK ERA is drawn from the personal, 10,000+ badge collection of Kevin Pedersen, head of the Brooklyn-based What’s Your Rupture record label and initiator of the Punk Badges Instagram site. The presentation at 8 Washington Square East Gallery’s Project Space has been developed by Pedersen and Sukhdev Sandhu (Colloquium for Unpopular Culture) with the assistance of Nicola Lees and Hugh O’Rourke at 80WSE Gallery.
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