Pussy Riot, John Doe among music icons to celebrate PunkFest at Cornell

ITHACA, N.Y. – Four generations of punk luminaries – including John Doe and Exene Cervenka, Ian MacKaye, Aaron Cometbus, Shonen Knife, Victoria Ruiz and members of Pussy Riot – will gather at Cornell University Nov. 1-5 for a weeklong celebration of the profound cultural, political and historical impact of punk.

Punkfest Cornell will feature film screenings, performances and panel discussions, and will celebrate the opening of Cornell University Library’s punk collections with an exhibition, “Anarchy in the Archives.”

Punk culture, which has included music, fashion, literature and visual arts, burst out from underground theater and rock scenes in New York and London in the mid-1970s. As it spread around the world, punk set the stage for independent music, third-wave feminist politics and musical activism up to the present day.

Punkfest event highlights include a panel discussion with Pussy Riot, the Russian punk and protest band whose members were imprisoned for nearly two years on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

Other talks will feature John Doe and Exene Cervenka, co-founders of the influential L.A. punk band X; Ian MacKaye, founder of the independent record label Dischord Records and the Washington D.C. bands Minor Threat and Fugazi; Victoria Ruiz, vocalist of the Downtown Boys; Aaron Cometbus, fanzine writer and former drummer for seminal Gilman St. band Crimpshrine; and journalist Jon Savage, author of the book “England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond,” as well as many others who helped punk evolve from a countercultural youth movement into an international force.

Punkfest Cornell coincides with the 40th anniversary of punk’s year zero in 1976, when many early punk bands released their first recordings. “It’s an ideal moment to examine punk’s historical and ongoing influence,” said Judith Peraino, professor of music, who is co-organizing Punkfest with Tom McEnaney, assistant professor of comparative literature. McEnaney and Peraino also co-teach a class on punk culture.

Cornell’s punk collections began arriving in 2012, when collector and author Johan Kugelberg donated around 3,000 items documenting punk’s emergence to the library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. The library’s punk collections – with rare posters, flyers, fanzines, recordings and photographs of iconic performers such as the Ramones, Iggy Pop and Blondie — have since grown to record the development of punk and its offshoot musical genres in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Midwest.

“Cornell’s nationally prominent archival collections on contemporary music, including punk, show how musical subcultures emerge from the underground, challenge the status quo, spread, and become globally influential,” said Katherine Reagan, the library’s curator of rare books and manuscripts. “We are excited to open our punk collections to a wider audience for the first time.”

Kugelberg, Peraino and McEnaney are co-curating the “Anarchy in the Archives” exhibition, which will open with a reception in the Hirschland Gallery in Kroch Library on Nov. 4, and remain open to the public until May 2017.

Off-campus, former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins will appear in spoken-word performance at the State Theatre on Nov. 3, John Doe at the Haunt on Nov. 4, and the legendary Japanese pop punk band Shonen Knife at the Haunt on Nov. 5.

For more information:
Rebecca Valli
office: 607-255-7701
cell: 607-793-1025
rv234@cornell.edu

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews. For additional information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

-30-