I’ve not heard back from any of the venues I’ve emailed. I’m trying to not worry about this. With a project aimed at finding out more about the spaces that present punk and contemporary performance practices, I’m wondering what direction I’ll take to compensate the lack of chat with venues.
These concerns to the side, I’m feeling pretty excited by this project. I’ve just returned home from a couple of days of being in the van with Milk Teeth, on their current UK tour. In reference to my earlier description of punk, I think it’s important to say that I think Milk Teeth are political in the sense that the personal is political (Hanisch, 1969). They write songs about relationships and mental health. Milk Teeth are punk.
We spoke about how contemporary performance and punk practices are often not seen as financially viable ways of earning income. We spoke about what it meant for them to be getting their own (large) rider on this tour. They know what it’s like to be on the road and not get a thing. As a small band, being on tour more than likely means fending for yourself. Their rider consisted of food, beer, rum, and juice – you name it. The first thing they did was offer their rider out to the support bands who were joining them on tour. I note that it is these small acts of kindness that foster communities. Will we always be able to make sacrifices of time, money, space and love to see our visions come to life? Not without the help of others.
I mention in conversation that our respective art forms are similar in that they will both never break into the mainstream. Contemporary performance and punk by very definition are other to the mainstream. This conclusion comes from the understanding that mainstream pop culture does not solely associate itself with the political agency of the artists who are currently popular. There are other systems in play. Talking specifically about the practices of pop music producers, Georgina Born in the afterword of Rock and popular music: Politics, policies, institutions says:
I want to think about ‘imagined communities’ in relation to the politics of cultural production: the projection of socio-cultural positioning through strategies of production. Although I cannot finally answer these questions here, I want to ask: what kind of ‘community’ do aesthetic strategies articulate/imagine? And if this is aesthetically produced, what political effectivity or social meaning does it have? (Shepherd, 1993)
The question of what community mainstream culture models itself on and for resonates with me. While I know that contemporary performance and punk practices will not be to everyone’s taste due to the form their products often take, I know that the content made is representative of the views of individuals who feel politicised by their lived experienced. Their work is a response to their experience of the world around us. For me the key phrase in my previous sentence is, “around us”. The work of contemporary performance and punk artists speaks of the world we all live in and yet it sits on the outside of popular cultural.
Contemporary performance and punk will always have a place within our society. How do we ensure that the artists who work within these niche art forms are not continually sacrificing themselves to produce work that supports their local communities? This is where I feel, as a producer, I must step in to offer a solution.
I’m not sure what a solution is but I want to keep trying to find one.
Hanisch, C. (2006) Available at: http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/uploadedFiles/Pages_Assets/PDFs_and_Word_Docs/Courses/Drama_Theatre_and_Performance/PersonalisPol%5B1%5D.pdf (Accessed: 03 May 2016).
Shepherd, J. (1993) Rock and popular music: Politics, policies, institutions. Edited by Tony Bennett, Simon Frith, Larry Grossberg, and Graeme Turner. New York: Taylor & Francis.