Punk music, and its surrounding culture, has always been most effective with a simple, straightforward approach. Author and musician Timothy Findlen, along with photographer Abby Banks, spent three months driving cross-country to visit and photograph sixty-five punk houses—communal, low-rent houses typically crammed full of punks, squatters, and artists. The end result is PUNK HOUSE, a collection of 300 full color photos and three short essays.
PUNK HOUSE documents a journey that most of us will have never taken; it shows us homes that most of us have never seen; it gives a small taste of a way of living most of us have never lived, and it does so in an easy yet successful way. Banks’ digital snapshots are assembled by location, and are mainly colorful details of the punk houses, the communal punks that live in them, and the masses of oddball junk that decorate them. The photos range from disgusting (the bathroom at Casa de Otto comes to mind —is that blood or hair dye?) to the artistic (is this a junk pile of sticks or is it considered sculpture?).
American punk is “a destruction/construction process…a learning period for genuine adult survival,” Thurston Moore tells us in the introduction to PUNK HOUSE, setting an intriguing punk-asvital-life-coach concept. Author Timothy Findlen follows Moore’s essay with a wandering diary: “I was riding a skateboard…wearing a cow costume and holding a piece of fried chicken.” He adds another absurd anecdote: “We spent a whole week
sitting on a front porch drinking forties with freight hoppers, listening to Weird Al records and losing sight of our goals.” His point being, “diverging adventures were the real juice of [the] trek.”
PUNK HOUSE: Interiors in Anarchy
Photography by Abby Banks, edited by Thurston Moore
Hardcover, 272 pages, $27.50, Abrams IMAGE