Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk

May 18 – August 31, 2008

The burgeoning punk rock music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s in East Los Angeles provided an electrically charged, creative climate. This scene created an atmosphere where performance mixed with poetry, and visual culture was defined by an aesthetic and an attitude. Artists and musicians interfaced and blurred the lines of actions, documentation, photography, sound and style. Taking its name from the all-ages music club The Vex, once housed within East Los Angeles’ Self Help Graphics and Art, Vexing: Female Voices from East L.A. Punk is an historical investigation of the women who were at the forefront of this movement of experimentation in music, art, culture and politics, while exploring their lasting legacies and contemporary practices. This documentary-style exhibition will include photo, video and audio archives of the era as well as studio work encompassing painting, installation, writings and performance.

In an artistic environment fueled by exchange and experimentation, music played a pivotal role in defining new images of self. This exhibition documents a vital moment of artistic and musical interchange in Los Angeles, with women staking out a position between and within punk rock, East LA and the downtown art scene. Vexing not only considers their significant contributions to the cultural landscape of LA, but also examines the multiple scenes and identities they negotiated. These women have also served as a model for subsequent generations interested in alternative social movements as a platform of expression, as well as the post-identity conceptual practices of today.

Participants include musicians Alice Bag, Teresa Covarrubias, Angela Vogel, Monica Flores, musician and artist Exene Cervenka, artists Diane Gamboa and Patssi Valdez, photographers Dawn Wirth, Louis Jacinto, Linda Posnick and Frank Gargani, recording label founder of Fatima Records Yolanda Comparan Ferrer, printmakers Richard Duardo, Jessee Vidaurre and John Miner, and filmmaker Jimmy Mendiola. Representing a newer generation of artistic producers influenced by these women are musician/artist Lysa Flores, artists Shizu Saldamando and Sandra de la Loza, photographer Chris TV, performance group Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, and bands The Sirens and Go Betty Go. Vexing also includes special concert footage and interviews courtesy of Pete Galindo, Willie Herrón and Lysa Flores from the forthcoming documentary on The Vex, and an excerpt from the forthcoming documentary “Eastside Punks” by Jimmy Alvarado, Pat Perez and Jake Smith.

Research and reproduction support provided by the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. This exhibition is co-curated by Pilar Tompkins and Colin Gunckel. A catalog will accompany the exhibition, with essays by Josh Kun, Michelle Habell-Pallán, Isabel Castro-Melendez, Colin Gunckel and Pilar Tompkins.