Exhibit: Inside ‘Ripped & Torn: Punk at the Intersection’

March 25, 2019

  • The RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery will be showcasing an exploration of punk culture through graphics from the Krivine Collection and photography and graphics by Latinx punk artist Martin Sorrondeguy.
  • The exhibit opens to the public Monday, March 25, and will close Wednesday, April 17, with a closing reception Tuesday, April 16, from 4 to 7 p.m. Martin Sorrondeguy will give closing remarks at 4:30 p.m.
  • “This show will appeal to a range of people, including punks themselves, fans, scholars, graphic-design nerds, and basically anyone who has an interest in intersectionality and art,” said Dr. Kate Birdsall, co-curator of the exhibit.

By Kara Dempsey '19
Photos by Shoshana Bittker '22

When we think of punk culture, many different images come to mind: ripped jeans, torn T-shirts, and safety pins, perhaps.

”Ripped & Torn,” the new exhibit at the RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery, explores these different images and how they have changed through time, arguing that “punk” has never been one thing. Taking its title from a Scottish fanzine, Ripped & Torn, the show posits that the movement has been riven by questions of identity from the beginning. It makes this argument through punk graphics from the world-renown Krivine Collection and photography and graphics by Martin Sorrondeguy.

Co-Curators Tessa Paneth-Pollak, director of the LookOut!, and Kate Birdsall, assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) at Michigan State University, have compiled components of the Krivine Collection of punk graphics, one of the world's largest collections. The Krivine Collection consists of Andrew Krivine’s personal collection of punk graphic art from bands in several countries. Currently, other works from the Krivine Collection will be traveling to New York and Brussels this year in a touring exhibition organized by the Cranbrook Art Museum.

The LookOut! exhibition offers MSU students, faculty, and community members a chance to experience these materials, which Krivine collected over a period of about forty years, first-hand.

From screen-print designs to hand-drawn fan promotions, the exhibit showcases an array of artwork that punk culture has influenced in today’s pop culture. The images show an in-depth history of what it means to be punk. These definitions have changed in several ways throughout time and these changes are best explained through the graphics that portray the bands and icons in the punk culture.

“Initially, the exhibition was only going to draw on works from the Krivine Collection," explained Paneth-Pollak in describing how the exhibition came to be. "But thanks to the work of my RCAH colleague Estrella Torrez, Chicago-based artist and photographer Martin Sorrondeguy will be in residence at RCAH from April 14-20.”

The graphics and photography by Sorrondeguy go hand-in-hand with the theme of the LookOut! Art Gallery exhibit, Paneth-Pollak said. His work focuses on the cultural diversity that is not always at the forefront of histories of punk culture. His photographs capture moments of Latinx punk artists attending and performing at shows, encapsulating their large presence within punk culture. His images show us the diverse bodies of punk behind the colorful graphics and promotional materials.  

“Sorrondeguy is incredibly skilled at capturing punks in action,” Paneth-Pollak said. “His works provide an embodied sense of the U.S. punk scene from the late 1980s to the present. While his photographs document, his posters and flyers invite black, brown, queer, and non-conforming bodies of all kinds to shows and dance parties.”

The images on display in "Ripped & Torn" explore the meaning of being punk and how political, social, and cultural influences changed what it means to be a punk.

“This show will appeal to a range of people, including punks themselves, fans, scholars, graphic-design nerds, and basically anyone who has an interest in intersectionality and art,” said Birdsall, who currently teaches a punk culture course, IAH208: Punk-Rock Politics: Subversion and Anarchy in Youth Culture.

"Ripped & Torn: Punk at the Intersection" runs Monday, March 25, until Wednesday, April 17.

The exhibition’s co-curator, Kate Birdsall, will give a talk on Thursday, April 11, at 3 p.m. in the LookOut!

The closing reception will take place in the LookOut! on Tuesday, April 16, from 4 to 7 p.m., with closing remarks by Martin Sorrondeguy at 4:30 p.m.

The RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery is located in the Residential College for the Arts and Humantities, on the second floor of Snyder-Phillips Hall on MSU's campus. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from noon to 3 p.m. and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. The LookOut! is always free and all are welcome.












Photos by Shoshana Bittker RCAH '22.

The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University is where students live their passions while changing the world. In RCAH, students prepare for meaningful careers by examining critical issues through the lens of culture, the visual and performing arts, community engagement, literature, philosophy, history, writing, and social justice. RCAH is situated in historic Snyder-Phillips Hall, where students learn and live together in a small-college setting, with all the advantages of a major university. For more information, visit rcah.msu.edu, email rcah@msu.edu, or call 517-355-0210.

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