OG Punk speaks to the legacy of punk as an anarchistic, youth counterculture rebelling against mainstream society. An attitude more than a movement, in the 1970s punk swept across the globe and was often motivated by urgent political concerns. Early on, the West Coast had an especially vibrant hardcore punk music scene. Over the past year Dina Goldstein has photographed key figures from the legendary punk rock scene of the 1980s and 1990s in Vancouver and Victoria. The portraits in OG Punk from this ongoing series were shot with a neutral studio backdrop, establishing a mood of staged and theatrical artifice. The subjects self-consciously perform for the camera, showing off their punk regalia, spiked hairdos, and tattoos. Some pose with playful bravado, others are more introverted, even melancholic. Seen as they are today, these original punks have matured as distinct personalities while still retaining their subculture personas, as their nicknames imply. Distinctions between costume and everyday adornment are hard to decipher, drawing attention to the limits of self-fashioning. Each portrait carries tensions between the public display of social identity and individual expression. For Goldstein’s subjects, punk culture persists as a rebellious attitude, and as Lisa Jak of the Dayglo Abortions band claims: “as long as there is ignorance, oppression, and intolerance we’ll be here to fight back.”
Dina Goldstein is a Vancouver photographer whose documentary, portraiture, and staged tableaux focuses on social commentary. Her work has been published widely and included in many international exhibitions.
Exhibition audio guide written and read by Vancouver author Michael Turner
Image: Dina Goldstein, Punk Hands (detail), 2021.