“The youth today should continue to destroy all that is Babylon and thrive for a new way.”
– Darryl Jenifer, White Riot: Punk Rock And The Politics Of Race
SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS and OBEY CLOTHING are pleased to present Banned In Babylon: The Art and Culture of Bad Brains, an exhibition featuring works on paper and paintings on canvas by Darryl Jenifer; photographs by Lucian Perkins, John Mousheghian, and Jeannie “Aunt Jean” Pawlowski; mixed-media paintings and prints by Shepard Fairey; and an assortment of memorabilia including rare vintage flyers, posters, and records. The opening reception includes live performances by Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains, Chuck Treece of McRad, Peter Stahl of Scream, Moby, and Trash Talk.
BAD BRAINS. Hardcore? Simply music.
In 1977, a wannabe jazz-fusion ensemble known as Mind Power changed their name to Bad Brains, ditched their old sound for punk rock, and “moshed” right into D.C.’s hardcore scene. After seeing Bob Marley in concert, Bad Brains delved deep into reggae music and began experimenting with fusing punk with reggae: JAH roots rock. Realizing that bands like the Clash were already synthesizing punk with reggae roots music in the U.K., bassist Darryl Jenifer and original Brains frontman Sidney McCray set out to replicate that sonic conversation in the United States and joined forces with Mind Power including vocalist Paul “HR” Hudson, his brother drummer Earl Hudson, and guitarist/bassist Gary “Dr. Know” Miller. The group used their music as a vessel to comment on their cultural, racial, political, and spiritual views. The Brains eventually became one of the most definitive American hardcore bands of the early ‘80s, forever changing the world’s understanding of what both punk and reggae could really mean. Although the band refused to classify their sound, most considered their music punk. The group only released a handful of records during their peak, but still developed a dedicated following and influenced a league of other noteworthy musicians including Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, Henry Rollins of Black Flag, and artist Shepard Fairey.
Inspiring curiosity and bringing people together to question their environment and the issues relating to their distinctive communities, the creative force behind OBEY seeks to examine the world we live in and confront all that is oppressive. Bad Brains and Fairey speak the same language and aspire to use their art and platforms as a means to engage in a discussion about obedience, intellectual rebellion, and social and political practice. Banned In Babylon: The Art and Culture of Bad Brains celebrates a revolutionary band that participated in a movement that taught us all one primary lesson: If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.
“I’m incredibly honored to create art with Bad Brains and to be connected to a band that has provided so much inspiration, energy, and sheer pleasure for me over the years. In addition to the Banned in Babylon exhibition, we’ll also be debuting the OBEY Clothing x Bad Brains collaboration. The goal was to make new images that refer to Bad Brains’ history and authenticity, but also add some Obey flavor in both the artwork and the clothing. Thanks, Bad Brains for the inspiration and for letting us collaborate with you as we move into the future!
Keep the P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude)!” – Shepard Fairey
The OBEY Clothing x Bad Brains collection is available in retailers worldwide this fall and available online at www.obeyclothing.com July 22. Comprised of a vibrant mix of classic Bad Brains graphics, this collection also includes creative interpretations by Fairey, band photographs shot by Lucian Perkins, and unearthed original flyers and rarities. This limited release features printed t-shirts and sweatshirts and a range of progressive designs inspired by the style and influence of Bad Brains.
About the Artists:
Darryl Jenifer (b. Washington, D.C.) is the founder, bassist, composer, conceptualist, and producer of Bad Brains. Although frontman H.R. occupied the spotlight during the band’s career, Jenifer has made a name for himself as a producer and musician, influencing reggae-influenced bands like Bedouin Soundclash and Sublime. In 2010, Jenifer released his first solo album In Search Of Black Judas that implemented both sonic and conceptual elements influenced by Bad Brains.
Jeannie “Aunt Jean” Pawlowski is the aunt of Cro-Mags founder Harley Flanagan and sister to guitar genius Denise Mercedes of the Stimulators. Jeannie is a staff writer for musicrealms.com, a website dedicated to musicians. Aunt Jean has been photographing Bad Brains since 1981.
John Mousheghian is known as a Bad Brains super-fan. He’s followed Bad Brains for more than 30 years, collecting a countless number of vintage posters, photographs, set lists, and rare memorabilia.
Lucian Perkins (b. Fort Worth, TX) is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American photojournalist, best known for covering the war in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Perkins graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Biology and discovered photography after attending a workshop lead by acclaimed photographer Garry Winogrand. In 1979, Perkins interned at The Washington Post, where he eventually worked as a staff photographer for 27 years, covering major international news and documenting a variety of pivotal, human-interest stories. During his internship, Perkins found himself at the forefront of D.C.’s punk scene. Capturing the early days of bands such as Bad Brains, Trenchmouth, and Teen Idles, Perkins’ photographs document a climactic time in the scene’s history.
Shepard Fairey (b. Charleston, S.C.) received his Bachelor of Fine Art in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. While at R.I.S.D. he created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker that later evolved into the OBEY GIANT art campaign. In 2008, his portrait of then Democratic candidate Barack Obama became an internationally recognized emblem. Since then, Fairey became one of the most sought-after and controversial artists in the world, changing the way people converse about art and view the urban landscape.
Fairey first heard Bad Brains in 1984 and found their approach to punk radical yet systematic. He found their sound and cultural commentary synonymous with his own views and creative aspirations. In 2012, the artist designed the cover of their album “Into the Future” which featured the band’s original lineup. Since then, Fairey has created numerous graphics inspired by the band and continues to find ways to integrate their ethos and style into his designs.
SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS is a multifunctional gallery space promoting diverse forms of art while providing a forum for contemporary dialogue. It was established by Shepard Fairey and Blaize Blouin in 1995 and played an integral part in introducing skateboarding culture and design to the art world. Now located in the historic neighborhood of Echo Park, SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS continues to offer a platform for artistic exploration and innovation. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm.
OBEY CLOTHING is a lifestyle apparel brand developed in 2001 by artist Shepard Fairey. Built off of heritage fundamentals from military design, skateboarding, music and cultural movements, OBEY Clothing weaves a story of experience and appreciation for those that came before and those that stand out with originality today. OBEY celebrates the disenfranchised and the brave, the people that think and express themselves uniquely and aren’t afraid to do something different. It’s about experience and observation.