Elise Rose is on a mission. The london based photographer has a heart to create a platform for people of color who’s expression is as raw, untamed, unapologetic and authentic as them, who’s expression is Punk.
Punk isn’t narrowed to a color, we at S3R know that, and Elise Rose certainly does as well. Nothing is more punk than the black experience. Despite all the pressures placed on POC’s from centuries of colonialism, slavery and systematic racism, yet defiantly, WE STILL RISE.
Arms wailing, guitar cab kicking, women hollerin, lead singers screaming, people working themselves in a spirit of a self-cultivating frenzy, punk music comes from the very bowels of the black experience. From the lacerated vocals of the Bad Brains to politically driven lyrics of Death, these expressions exude out of the oppressed, fighting consistently thru their art.
But all too often people associate punk with strictly whiteness, but as Saint Heron chroniciled, “Despite being racially excluded from an entire society, it’s important to note that in many ways, black people were the founding figures of the punk-rock movement. Before the Sex Pistols, there was Chuck Berry and before the Ramones, there was Pure Hell, the first all African-American punk band.”
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff pointed out in an article for Dazed, “Punk music is not the sole property of whiteness, even though to people of my generation it may appear that way at first glance,” adding, “Like many facets of pop culture, its historical image has been whitewashed.”
And Elise Rose wants to make sure her generation doesn’t whitewash or disregard the POC Punks around her today, who are making a noise for their cause, affecting culture for their cause, and living a life of activism for the causes that directly affect this generation.
And so Elise started the POC PUNX Series.
POC PUNX is a collection of photographs that capture punks of color in London, as artists, performers and in their daily lives. POC PUNX celebrates and gives voice to punks who otherwise wouldn’t have a dedicated platform.
“Growing up, I was one of 3 people of colour involved in a scene that felt unquestionably white,” Elise says, “In an effort to visually dismantle the idea that punk is essentially a white thing, I began to take photographs of friends and inspirational people of colour in punk and alternative music scenes. Within this series I wanted create straight-ups, intimate snapshots and images that capture the energy and power of their presence at shows. On many occasions, particularly with the straight up’s, I’ve used different compact and disposable cameras as I feel theres’s something really unpretentious and unfiltered about the snapshots they produce. I feel that it compliments the movement.”
Her series also led to Elise getting involved and eventually help launch Decolonise Fest, a DIY festival by and for people of colour in Punk and alternative music scenes that takes place in London. Founded last year, Decolonise has a fury of promising energy illuminating around it, already having booked artist such as Skinny Girl Diet and Nekra, and hosting a variety of social advocacy workshops, were looking forward to what 2018 has in store for Decolonise.
S3R News was so moved by what Elise was doing, we had to dig a little deeper behind POC PUNX, Decolonise Fest and everything else she’s stirring up in the UK.
S3R: You have a wide variety of live shots, where are they coming from? What venues are you experiencing artist of color currently?
Elise Rose: The live shots are coming from all over London mostly. Many have been taken at DIY Space for London – where we hold Decolonise Fest, Camden Assembly, Old Blue Last, Sebright Arms, festivals, parties or random unplanned nights. Wherever I hear there’s something going on.
S3R: The life stills, what’s their context? Are they homies? Different people in your community? What’s the backstories?
Rose: The life stills are a real mix. I started out taking photos of friends. When shooting people I didn’t know, I wanted to take their photos and chat to them in places where they felt comfortable or where they personally identify with punk. I think it’s interesting to see various insights into people lives. It’s especially important with people of colour, where other people may have a pre-conceived idea of what they are about, and how they entered a scene which still feels to many as a predominantly white one.
As time went on and a lot of these people became good friends too, the shots became as organic as the live ones, and I’ve been shooting the energy around me, wherever it is.
S3R: How you’d hook up with Stephanie Phillips to start Decolonise Fest?
Rose: I had heard about Steph’s band Big Joanie and dropped her a message to see if they’d be up for letting me take some photos of them. They were down for it and she mentioned Decolonise Fest and asked if I wanted to get involved in the collective.
S3R: What’s some short term goals you have for POC PUNX?
Rose: Continue shooting! And recording video and audio of people and shows so the experience is more interactive. I’m enjoying shooting but I’d love to shoot outside of England. Around Europe, Chicago, LA, Berlin or Japan would be sweet. Making that happen. I plan to exhibit the series too.
You can follow all things Elise Rose and Decolonise Fest at the links below:
skirt skirt plug: Decolonise Fest is taking submissions for the 2018 fest, so if you wanna get down or help organize make sure to hit em upppp. 😉