Protesters Gather in Dissent of 'Inauthentic' Punk Exhibit at Met

By Bryan Graham and Ana Komnenic  on May 10, 2013 4:46pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Met has punked out — but not enough for a few hard-core music fans.

A group of protesters got loud and snotty Friday over the just-opened punk-themed fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for not being punk enough.

Self-proclaimed "real punk" Gerry Visco, a 58-year-old writer, photographer and prominent voice in the New York punk scene, led a group of a dozen protesters outside the Met on Friday afternoon in dissent of "Punk: Chaos to Couture," which opened Thursday at the Upper East Side museum and runs through August 14.

"We're not mad, we're disappointed," said Visco, who moved to New York in 1974 and still hosts parties for the punk scene. "They did not fulfill the concept of punk. They should have gone a little further."

Visco first attended the exhibit Friday but organized the protest upon seeing published photographs earlier. Among her criticisms was the choice of clothes on display, describing them as "designed for a housewife who might want to look pretty and put on some fishnets."

"I was a real punk," Visco said, pointing at the jacket she said she got in London in 1977. "We like the fact that they're doing this show but it's not as authentic as it could have been."

Another objection was the sterile and "high-end" portrayal of a movement borne from a DIY ethic.

"It wasn't fun enough," Visco said. "It could have been more avant-garde and daring."

A 21-year-old man who identified himself as Renegade Red said he was there in support of Visco.

"I don't think it's a protest," he said of the gathering. "I think it's a friendly statement that this isn't true to punk."

Rew Starr, a musician friend of Visco's who said she was "older than Britney but younger than Madonna," said she was looking forward to seeing the exhibit but laughed at the idea of celebrities dressing up to be punk.

"I'm curious because it's 'red-carpet Punk,' designers designing $900 outfits to look punk," Starr said. "Punk is an expression of self, so if you're looking to buy something to look punk you're not punk."

Andrew Tess, a 21-year-old artist, considers himself a fan of the Met, where he goes for perspective on his own work and "to see what the masses are thinking." He hopes the exhibit will encourage those unfamiliar with punk culture to learn more.

"The subculture should support the mainstream and the mainstream should support the subculture," Tess said. "I think everyone is punk in their own way."

Visco said the group plans on returning at least once a week through the duration of the exhibit in the spirit of punk and "visual protest."

"They should have a black carpet, not a red carpet," she said.

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