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Punk Flyers from 1977 Los Angeles
Essay by artist, Mark Vallen
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The Los Angeles punk rock movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's created its own unique form of visual communication, the likes of which haven't been seen since. Flyers presenting angry nihilistic images began to be posted on LA's telephone poles in 1977. Strange names leapt off those broadsheets, BAGS, WEIRDOS, GERMS, SCREAMERS.
LA's punk rock underground was promoting itself with the only means available to it... the hand made xeroxed flyer. The established corporate media barely acknowledged punk (except to belittle it), and so it was necessary for punk to create its own media. Anger, sarcasm, and a dark sense of humor pervaded punk's aesthetics... and those elements combined with the easy accessibility of xerox technology made for some explosive visual messages. Punks took great delight in poking a finger in society's eye, and so the flyers extolling the movement were often morbidly funny, bizarre, dadaist, highly political and mocking.
There were at times so many flyers distributed that one couldn't see a bare lamppost anywhere in Hollywood, and those sometimes crude flyers helped build a tiny scene into a mass movement. The sampling of flyers presented here come from my own collection, and I attended all of the concerts they announced. I offer these images in order to illustrate how vitally important images can be in building social movements.
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