Rebecca Binns
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Crass art and the birth of anarcho-punk
in Gee Vaucher
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Vaucher’s involvement in Crass began while she was still resident in New York, from where she raised funds for the band to fly out and play gigs amidst the downtown No Wave music scene. It provides a wry account of her encounter with Johnny Rotten slumped outside CBGBs. In 1979, Vaucher returned to the UK to resume living at Dial House, this time as part of Crass. Crass attempted to reignite punk’s radicalism and grassroots ideology in the aftermath of its commercialisation following its first wave. The band became synonymous with an ethos of independence through setting up Crass Records to release their own music, and that of other like-minded bands. Vaucher’s designs for Crass were a key component in forging this new direction for punk, and the chapter looks at how the visual language she developed through her extensive body of designs for record sleeves, inserts, posters and other ephemera fused the aggression of punk with the pacifism and alternative life choices of the counterculture. Her work in this period makes use of satirical humour, attacking the bastions of punk, Sex Pistols, equally with establishment figureheads. Her work critiquing the role of the patriarchal nuclear family unit and Church in fostering oppression, and featuring the home as the setting where familial drama is played out is shown to draw on Surrealist anti-rationalism. Her work is discussed in relation to anarcho-feminist ideas that were gaining traction at the time, as evidenced in the output of Crass, Poison Girls and anarcho-punk fanzines.

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Gee Vaucher

Beyond punk, feminism and the avant-garde

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