Punks Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon, 1977

From 1976 to 1977, Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon documented the London punk scene
revolving around the Roxy in Covent Garden and the Global Village in Charing Cross. The
first prints from their Punks series were originally presented at The Photographers’
Gallery in 1978, and featured many years later, in 2012, at Tate Britain in the retrospective
titled Another London. Knorr and Richon sought a direct engagement with their subjects,
clearly affirming their own presence with a formal and unconcealed approach, through
static scenes and embalmed poses frozen in an infinite instant by the cold light of the
flash. It almost seems as if they wanted us to experience the tension looming over the
state of things by creating a timeless testimony of what they encountered. The signs
displayed during the enacted ritual were the union Jack, safety pins, loosened
black leather jackets filled with painted writing, ripped jeans, heavy makeup, collars,
chains, zippers, studs. Amongst the most notable heroines of the music scene such as
Ari Up, Laura Logic, Palmolive, Poly Styrene and Siouxie Sioux, the partakers were young
and unenthusiastic concert and dance floor aficionados; bored, antagonistic individuals,
irreverent figures and Dickensian wrongdoers. Between hedonistic drifts and fleeting
rushes, the protagonists appear strong and vulnerable, repressed and shameless.