Hard Art, DC 1979

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Product Details

$31.95  $29.39
Akashic Books
Publish Date
10.5 X 0.5 X 7.99 inches | 1.27 pounds

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About the Author

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.


"Even if you aren't familiar with these bands, the backstory of the Bad Brains' impact on punk or the impact of the Teen Idles and Dischord Records on the DC scene, Perkins' photos offer a fascinating snapshot of a time when it was still rebellious, even dangerous, to declare yourself a punk...All in all Hard Art is a pretty incredible...peek at a scene that helped launch 1,000 bands and DIY labels that existed for their love of the energy and the music, not as any means to an end."
--Mother Jones

"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)

"Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post photographer Lucian Perkins has turned his lens on everything from the high fashion runway to the Persian Gulf War, but it so happens he also shot the heck out of D.C.'s young punk scene on one night in 1979...Call it a must for the D.C. punk historians out there."
--Pitchfork/Nothing Major

"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."
--Giant Robot

"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-thriving punk scene."

"A particularly interesting and important moment in musical history."
--Baltimore City Paper