Author(s): Alec MacKaye
In 1979, a soon-to-erupt punk scene took hold in Washington, DC, with bands like Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, Teen Idles and the Untouchables - among others - at the forefront. Lucian Perkins, later a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Washington Post, was then an intern who photographed several pivotal gigs over a short period of time. His now-iconic photos of early punk concerts are complemented by essays from punk rock musicians Henry Rollins and Alec MacKaye.
"A great concert photograph finds a way to communicate all the stuff your retinas can't detect. Noise. Humidity. Claustrophobia. Young minds being shaped inside sweaty skulls. Lucian Perkins captured all of that on Sept. 15, 1979, when Bad Brains unleashed its radioactivity on a scrum of artists, punks and other assorted weirdos at Hard Art Gallery, a rowhouse near 14th and P streets NW."
--"Washington Post" (feature)
""Hard Art."..is another entry into the swollen literature of D.C. hardcore self-documentation. So the obvious question is, what can Perkins add to a subject? Two things: First, a very narrow and early focus. The photos document just four shows in 1979 and 1980...Second, it's only half self-documentation. Perkins, a career "Washington Post" photographer who covered wars from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, photographed this scene but was not of it. As intimate as they are, his pictures benefit from a certain distance that a curious outsider can lend to his subjects: anthropological though never exploitative...capturing all the energy of those shows without trying to explain it."
--"Washington City Paper"
"The photos...capture the energy of punk and its symbiotic relationship between the performers and the crowd. (Also, we have to admit the outfits donned by rebellious youth in the '80s are truly priceless.)"
--AOL Huffington Post
"The live shots are stunning but the photos of the audience are just as important-reflecting a real sense of community and not just a star factory."
"Stick some smart, passionate kids near the halls of power and you'll probably end up with some amazing punk. Proof of that can be seen in "Hard Art, DC 1979," a photobook featuring the work of D.C.-based lensman Lucian Perkins. (Henry Rollins contributes an essay.) As the title suggests, the tome collects striking images of the likes of Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, and other firebrands from the early days of the city's soon-to-be-thriv
Lucian Perkins, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, worked as a staff photographer for the "Washington Post" for twenty-seven years until 2007. While at the "Post," Perkins covered many of the major events of the time, including Russia since 1988, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently Perkins is an independent photographer and videographer concentrating on multimedia projects.
Alec MacKaye is a singer and musician best known for his bands the Untouchables, Faith, Ignition, and the Warmers. In more recent years, MacKaye has focused on other artistic pursuits such as painting and writing.