On Saturday September 8, 2012 We Got Power!: We Survived the Pit opened at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, just three blocks from where Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz started We Got Power! magazine in the Summer of 1981. Together they published 5, almost 6 issues. Twenty-eight years later in 2012 the book by the same name was published by Bazillion Points, and it was the book that would become the exhibition.
The photos tell the story of the impact of the Southern California Hardcore Punk Rock scene on Markey and Schwartz and their wide circle of friends. Their pictorial history begins in the early 80s and ends with an image from a 1991 European tour with Sonic Youth and Nirvana, which Markey documented. The exhibition featured over 140 photographs, as well as related ephemera including a collection of T-shirts, skateboards designed by Raymond Pettibon, gig flyers, and documentation of the films of David Markey, including The Slog Movie and Reality 86'd. A slew of videos by Dave Markey were simultaneously screened in an adjacent room.
The opening night featured performances by The Adolescents, Saccharine Trust, The Last, White Flag, and Dead Issue. The closing featured performances by Meat Puppets with rare appearances from Middle Class, and Phranc. The live performances and the show itself were free to the public. Those that were able to attend were fully immersed into the imagery of the scene. If We Got Power! was a high school, the exhibition events were literally reunions.
The closing festivities had a level of urgency since this was to be the last major event for Track 16 because the building was scheduled for demolition to become a Metro Expo line train stop. The last week of September, Raymond Pettibon, knowing the fate of Track 16 at Bergamot painted on the walls within the exhibition. One painted line in particular rang with a pang, “There seems to be no place in the world for luyv or the innocence of a simple spontaneous act. Write me here.” Four months later Track 16 Gallery was leveled to the ground.
We Got Power! lives on in the book and in the documentation that is available for purchase through this site. And, Track 16 lives on via its on-line presence and by appointment only!
Videos of the exhibition and the live performances from the opening and closing festivities can be viewed here