Larry Fink, The Beats
Karen Knorr & Olivier Richon, Punks
Beats and punks may have become style icons, opinions on their legacy vary widely. Despite their different public image, they have much in common. Both arose as countercultures in times of stifling moral codes. Quickly, both movements were appropriated and sold as stereotypes by the mainstream leisure industry, generating sizable revenues from their music, fashion and literature.
What disappeared to the background were less commodifiable traits, which nonetheless continue to shape the agendas of activist movements today. The beats and– more pronouncedly – the punks were anti-racist and inspired by black culture. Beyond being anti-authoritarian, both encouraged socio-political action and believed in creating alternatives to capitalist domination. Punk is notable for its DIY ethic, inspiring others to make their own clothes, recycle consumer goods, or self-publish their own zines.
Both groups also relied on having their lives and performances photographed. This contributed in no small amount to their being known for their appearance rather than their ideological views. Larry Fink followed and photographed the second generation beats, who needed him to “give them gravity” and “record and encode their wary but benighted existence”. Knorr & Richon portrayed punks in the near darkness of their London nightclubs, using flashlight to reveal gestures and details invisible at the time of taking the pictures.