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Hard Art, DC 1979
Photographs by Lucian Perkins

 
Exhibition Dates: Monday, June 2–Saturday, October 11, 2014
Center for Documentary Studies, Juanita Kreps Gallery
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
 
Lucian Perkins’ arresting gelatin silver and black-and-white inkjet photographs bring alive a soon-to-erupt hardcore punk scene in the nation’s capital on the eve of the Reagan presidency, an enormously influential artistic and cultural movement inspired by then unknown bands like Bad Brains, the Teen Idles, and the Slickee Boys. 
 
Perkins, a two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning photojournalist (1995 and 2000), was a 26-year-old intern at the Washington Post when he shot the images featured in Hard Art at four shows in D.C. in the fall and winter of 1979–1980—at Hard Art Gallery, Madams Organ Artist’s Cooperative, and the Valley Green public-housing complex. The Valley Green show was conceived of by Bad Brains frontman H.R. as a Rock Against Racism action, a movement born in the U.K. that aimed to promote greater racial harmony through music.
 
The negatives languished in storage until 1995, when Perkins hired photographer/photo archivist Lely Constantinople to organize several decades of his work. Going through what Constantinople describes as “an ocean of negatives, prints, contact sheets, all jumbled into a mass in his basement,” she was stopped in her tracks by the remarkable, but unmarked, negatives from the Valley Green show—“What is going on here? Where is this?” She then recognized her boyfriend (now husband), Alec MacKaye, in some of the other negatives. MacKaye was fourteen when the images were shot, a young hardcore fan who would become a prominent musician. His older brother Ian, later of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame, was there too, with his band, the Teen Idles. Perkins let Constantinople make two sets of contact sheets from the the punk show negatives to give to the MacKaye brothers, who were ecstatic over this historical record of a time that the New York Times described in a 2013 story as “a seminal moment in music history.”
 
With Perkins’ blessing, Constantinople retained the images with the idea that they might be published or exhibited at some point. Hard Art, DC 1979 was published in 2013 (Akashic Books) and includes a narrative by Alec MacKaye and an essay from D.C. kid turned punk legend Henry Rollins. The accompanying traveling exhibition was organized and edited by Constantinople and Jayme McLellan, director of Civilian Art Projects gallery.
 
“One of the things I still get chills about with these photographs is their raw power, their non-agenda openness,” says Constantinople. “It feels like you've been dropped into a time, a place, a moment. You're not looking at there, you are there—with it and of it."

Read Alec MacKaye’s descriptions, from the Hard Art, DC 1979 book, of each of the venues where Lucian Perkins shot his images: 


Valley Green Housing Complex
Hard Art Gallery
Madams Organ Artist’s Cooperative

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An Everyday Affair
Selling the Kodak Image to America, 1888–1989


Exhibition Dates: Thursday, April 10–Saturday, September 13, 2014
Center for Documentary Studies, Porch and University Galleries
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
Directions


“The idea gradually dawned on me that what we were doing was not merely making dry plates, but that we were starting out to make photography an everyday affair.” —George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company


Exhibit curator Lisa McCarty, 2013–14 CDS exhibitions intern:

Between 1888 and 1975, the Eastman Kodak Company invented the first handheld camera, roll film, 35mm negative and slide films, the first line of color film for amateurs, and the first digital camera—essentially making photography as we’ve experienced it for the past hundred years possible. Kodak transformed the once costly and cumbersome pursuit of image making into an inexpensive and spontaneous affair , and in the process , made it possible for almost anyone to become a photographer.

Alongside their technical advances, Eastman Kodak broke new ground in commercial marketing. By pioneering the use of print advertisements featuring persuasive slogans and romanticized illustrations, Kodak convinced consumers that photographing their daily lives was both a joyful pastime and a familial duty, and they made it as easy as pressing a button.

Take a Kodak with you. Kodak as you go. Keep a Kodak story of the children. Make somebody happy with a Kodak. You can keep happiness with snapshots. Treasured moments deserve Kodak film. You press the button, we do the rest.

Kodak’s promotional pleas, along with their amateur-friendly cameras, ushered in an era of documentary compulsion that continues to thrive today.

An Everyday Affair surveys 101 years of advertisements in five thematic groupings to examine the ideology of simplicity and pleasure that Kodak sold to America with its products. However, while these innovative production and marketing strategies led to the worldwide ubiquity of photography, they also may have contributed to Kodak’s eventual bankruptcy in 2011. While Kodak shared in shaping our collective expectation that photography should be easy and enjoyable, their promotional strategies ultimately backfired when other companies began to simplify and glorify digital technology more effectively.

An Everyday Affair features reproductions of Eastman Kodak advertisements from the Wayne P. Ellis Collection of Kodakiana and the J. Walter Thompson Company Domestic Advertisements Collection, held in the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Library, as well as a selection of vintage Kodak cameras.

CDS Gallery Fall Hours

Monday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m
Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: closed

On occasion, the galleries are closed for installation, maintenance, and university scheduling considerations. Visitors might wish to call 919.660.3663 before they make a special trip to see an exhibition, to ensure that the galleries are open. 
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