BELLA SAVIGNANO
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 FLASH BANG ARCHIVE



FLASH BANG is an archive devoted to the collection and preservation of 1960s and 1970s subcultural movements. The archive holds clothing, ephemera, photographs, and artwork.


ExhibitionArtifacts from the archive and work made from facsimiles of source material were shown in a group exhibition in March 2024 called “A faint annotation”. The exhibition presents an alternative timeline of glam rock that centers the underground art scene of early 1970s NYC. The work examined the archivist’s place within not just the collection, but within public perceptions of cultural timelines at large.ResearchExcerpt from FLASH BANG: Amplifying a Revisionist History of Glam Rock in New York’s Art Underground  
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for a BFA in Design History & Practice at Parsons.

“With all due respect, Marc Bolan did not invent glitter,” penned rock journalist Lisa Robinson in an early edition of her “Eleganza” column in Creem magazine. She boldly wrote about what no rock journalist had ever given any serious thought to: fashion. Though fashion has always been pivotal to the sensual experience of music, specifically live performance, infrequently had clothing been given further attention in music journalism than the mere mention of its existence. This likely had something to do with rock journalism being a real tee-and-jeans affair: with no boardrooms or wads of cash in sight, there was no need to be buttoned up, and, how dare a lowly rock writer upstage the performer they’re meant to be observing? (Plus it would be very un-bohemian of them to put thought into their image when they should have been inventing astute takes on the topic at hand.) Robinson broke the mold with “Eleganza”, a column about the fashion choices of musicians, and what she thought those choices said about the state of affairs in rock ‘n’ roll and otherwise. She proved, beginning in June 1973, that the largely unserious topics of fashion and rock music could be written about in a way that was analytical and razor-sharp without ever going stale.

Robinson’s November 1973 column, “Alice Cooper Did Not Invent Glitter,” was a turning point. It recognized iconoclastic drag performers and theatrical productions as the real root of truly subversive, fast-and-loose displays of female impersonation (at most) and inspiration (at least) on stage. She comments that these productions, spearheaded by John Vaccaro (Play-House of the Ridiculous) and Charles Ludlam (Ridiculous Theatrical Company), who were interwoven with Warhol’s world, “were more visually outrageous than any current rockstar’s most carefully executed fantasies.” This comment speaks to the attitude with which Robinson approaches “glitter rock.” There is no solipsistic view of London’s shiniest musical exports, David Bowie and Marc Bolan, as the generative bubble where glam was born and raised (and later died with Gary Glitter.) Instead, Robinson recognizes the transformative impact of the New York underground in the image later adopted by Bowie. More importantly, she acknowledges the executive effort of the glitter fantasy, noting its meticulous performativity when co-opted by the rock community.
Artist BookComing soon!