With Golnar Nikpour. "Punk is a moving target": Punk is an unwieldy object of study--because of fictions that circulate as truth, absences in archives and the questionable subject of recovery, and the passage of minor details into fields of knowledge. A conversation about the politics of methodology, and historiography, of subculture. 32 pp., 4.5 x 6.5". On Guillotine
There are a number of reviews online, but this one from The Millions
is my favorite:
skewers this kind of nostalgic teleology, among other things, in the dialogue between lifelong lady punks, Mimi Thi Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour. Nguyen has been making zines like Slander
and Race Riot
since 1991 and has written a great deal about punk along the way; Nikpour grew up in New York by way of Tehran and was a co-coordinator of seminal punk fanzine Maximum Rocknroll
, which she still contributes to intermittently. Their final note is a good starting point for the conversation, as Nguyen defines punk as 'a plural, rather than a coherent, series of forms or formations, that can and should resist institutionalization,' and that 'attempts to describe punk are always partial because punk is'
And so the chapbook ends, leaping into whitespace that refuses to propose a stable definition of punk. This end hews firmly to their belief that punk consists of a multiplicity of local scenes; the texts conversational form embraces Nguyens and Nikpours differences in experience and perspective. Both write of how they became invested in punks strains of feminism, gender deviancy, and radical politics. They concur that punk by its own definition exists as a constellation of scenes united by a rather elastic set of punk ethics, and that history cannot be reduced. Which isnt to say that this doesnt happen, but that what matters within punk history extends far beyond the traditional celebrated history of punk spawned in the UK and New York City, of the Sex Pistols and Sid and Nancy, of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.
To this end, Nguyen also ties in Roderick Fergusons writing on the cultural appropriation of minority movements, what he calls 'the will to institutionality.' She states, 'I am suspicious of the incorporation of a punk canon, managed then by punk experts. What will be determined worth remembering? Only the most useful forms of punk, and useful to what purpose? And what else falls away?'"