The year 2016 will go down in the annals of music history as the moment when punk finally and ultimately died, and—like in a scene straight out of a Claire Bishop essay—the official cause of death will be the political instrumentalization of that fuzzy thing called “culture.”
Joseph Corré, son of queen of punk Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren, announced yesterday that he will set fire to his entire collection of punk memorabilia, estimated to be worth about £5 million ($7.1 million).
The bonfire is slated to take place in Camden, London, on November 26, to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols single Anarchy in The UK, off the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
Corré is calling on anyone who wants to watch their once-treasured punk items go up in flames to join in on the ritualistic inferno.
According to a press release that went out yesterday, Corré, who is the owner of pricey lingerie line Agent Provocateur and, like his famous mom, a political and environmental activist, made the incendiary announcement (pun intended) in response to Queen Elizabeth II declaring that 2016 is the “Year of Punk.”
“When the Queen gives a fucking nod to punk’s 40th Anniversary Year, you know something has gone seriously wrong,” Corré explains.
He goes on to express his discontent with cultural institutions such as the British Film Institute, the British Library, the Design Museum, ICA, Museum of London, the Photographers’ Gallery, as well as Rough Trade, and the Roundhouse for running a series of events under the umbrella of punk’s 40th anniversary after “Punk London” received a £99,000 grant from the Lottery Fund.
“The Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard,” he says. “Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream. Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act.”
He goes on to warn the public of what he perceives as a plague of complacency. “A general malaise has now set in amongst the British public. People are feeling numb. And with numbness comes complacency. People don’t feel they have a voice anymore. The most dangerous thing is that they have stopped fighting for what they believe in. They have given up the chase. We need to explode all the shit once more.”
Corré’s own pedigree and entrepreneurship, as well as his expertise in public relations, have led several publications to question how “punk” his move really is, with New York magazine’s Véronique Hyland deeming it “as punk as North West wearing a Thrasher shirt to Build-A-Bear Workshop.”
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