The one thing I found out after starting this site is that archiving is not easy. The constant battle between doing something you are really passionate about with, well, actually making a living, never ends. A conundrum that hundreds of thousands of creatives struggle with every day. So when I met New York archivist Andrew Krivine, I was curious how he managed to tackle this existential crisis and also assemble an outstanding exhibition that was very obviously dear to his heart.
Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die at the Museum of Arts and Design in fact only represents a tiny fraction of his massive collection. A collection that is so large, Krivine himself was at odds with what to include in the exhibit. Fearing he would pick everything, he left the curation in the very capable hands of Director of Cranbrook Art Museum and Curator at Large for Design at the Museum of Arts and Design, Andrew Blauvelt. Their collaboration resulted in an exciting and vibrant exhibition that makes even jaded New Yorkers like myself, sit up and take notice.
Subtitled, Punk Graphics, 1976-1986, the exhibition presents the graphic design of the US and the British scene in a somewhat unusual way. Eschewing a timeline approach, the show carefully explains the overriding concepts embraced within the movement—regardless of chronology. An effect that serves to create a more cultural narrative.
An interesting addition to the exhibit are two headphone equipped turntables complete with a stack of influential punk vinyl. Cleverly allowing visitors an immersive experience into the way most fans were first introduced to this type of music. A seemingly insignificant, yet important thing that showed how deeply the curators thought about the environment.
As if to underscore that point, the small handful of the press invited to the opening were treated to a surprise appearance of one of punk’s original provocateurs, John Lydon.
Casually striding into the room and making himself comfortable by leaning against a glass case containing memorabilia, Lydon exuded an odd sereneness. One no doubt hewn from the tribulations of once being a spokesperson for disaffected youth….and surviving. Ever the muckraker, Lydon expounded on topics as varied as Britains music-hall humor in punk to his part in the Pistols graphics output. Despite the passage of time, Mr. Lydon’s charm is undeniable. The glint in his eye being the only clue to the enfant terrible that was “Mr. Rotten” A persona he was only too happy to display to those gathered for an open to the public interview conducted by punk historian Gillian McCain later that day. After all, would you expect anything less?
Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die – Punk Graphics 1976-1986 is on display now at the Museum of Arts and Design at 1 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, through August 18, 2019. https://madmuseum.org/