Blank City at The ICA

Underground 'B' stars of the No Wave: (l. to r.) Filmmakers Scott B. and Beth B., artist Diego Cortez, Lydia Lunch, Johnny O'Kane, Bill Rice & Adele Bertei of the Contortions. New York City, 1979. © Marcia Resnick / Retna Ltd.

Currently running at the ICA in London until March 15th, Blank City tracks the heady days of the Punk and Post-Punk scene in New York and the explosion of creativity in the late 70s and early 80s in Graffiti, Hip Hop and the New Wave.

“In London, Punk was beginning its heady rise. Across the Atlantic, New York City was financially on its knees, but about to witness an unprecedented outpouring of creativity under the No Wave banner. Blank City documents the early years of Debbie Harry, Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Lizzie Borden and many more artists, musicians and filmmakers inspired by the likes of Warhol and Basquiat to make art on their own terms with whatever materials they had to hand. What’s fascinating is how the lack of resources in a major global city presented a freedom to experiment which saw artists from all disciplines exchange art-forms oblivious to any rules. So musicians turned into filmmakers, while painters picked up guitars. Performance was the key. The desire to express, be seen and heard.

A short lived movement, the No Wave left a still-resonating legacy. Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Scott and Beth B’s films all formed the Cinema of Transgression which can be seen today in the work of filmmakers such as Gaspar Noe and Romain Gavras. An amazing documentary showcasing the heart of the No Wave scene then and now.”

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