"The Way We Were" : Lifting The Veil On NYC's Punks Of Color Scene
Since 2014 Destiny Mata, (aka "The People's Photographer") began documenting NYC's rising alternative punks of color subculture across the city. She had no idea what it would actually turn into. So goes art for art's sake. When COVID crushed the world last spring, she began compiling her photography that would become "The Way We Were."
Both a book, a digital issue, and a series with virtual shows & activations, Mata's landmark work came to life in collaboration with The Culture Crush, former Vogue Italia & France editor Debra Scherer's brilliant new subculture focused, photography collective and publishing house.
Fluent in photography, film and the art of the interview at the highest levels, Scherer's Culture Crush became Mata's Medici of sorts, a perfect partner to breathe life into over 6 years of her compiled flicks & experiences that open a floodgate into a world few knew little about.
Out of all the gifts Scherer possesses, perhaps her greatest is her innate ability to connect narratives, see behind the veil & tell the stories that need to be told. This is one of them.
Mata's definitive mixed-media capsule weaves together the complicated overlapping collectives and niche communities in NYC that all united around the music of the marginalized. Including quotes and quips from the organizers, thought leaders, artists, musicians, designers & fringe outliers that make up the scene, the book accurately reflects the DIY soul & spirit at the core of the scene's theology.
"The first Punx Of Color show I went to was in a Brooklyn basement. I was just in shock really of how the people had all come together. All punks of color, all from NYC...I had never been to a show that was all black and brown musicians, the avant-garde of the disenfranchised, local activists...and like me, all outcasts. For once I didn't feel like I was being judged. I could just be myself." Mata says.
"I felt like I was home."
The mind behind the lens and inside the culture, Destiny Mata.
For years, the Black & Brown punk culture embraced progressive political ideology, a celebration of outcasts, the LGBTQ community & the DIY middle-finger-to-your-system well before the vapid army of faux-woke social media virtue signalers. If anything, it's a referendum on actual authenticity, actual love, and actual community. All three of those are in short order in a world driven by clickbait and retargeting algorithms. The kids not only need this, but are alright. Mata's "The Way We Were" proves that subculture leads valiant charges in ways nothing else can.
This Friday at 7pm they kickoff the launch of the book with a virtual music and art special featuring over 15 bands performing and narrating these untold stories, along with Culture Crush Collective photographers Godlis and Janette Beckman, who add serious context to the art of photographing punks and rebels through the generations. Both Godlis & Beckman are iconic figures who emanate from subculture, but have beyond transcended it, with decades of world famous work at some of the most prestigious galleries on earth.
The book was all designed by Debra Scherer herself, a labor of love for the culture & her connection to its roots, personal. It comes across as an intimate journal, authentically DIY and punk as fuck in its presentation.
All Tix and merch available through iconic Saint Vitus - link here.
We encourage you to not only watch the performances and presentation, but support those who have needed it far more than most. In an era that likes to believe that social media is actually community, and tapping the "heart button" equates to actually tapping into heart, "The Way We Were" is even more important for not only those who made the scene what it is, but our culture as a whole.
A DIY, punk AF style trailer for this weekend's virtual experience, featuring over 15 bands, guest speakers & POC subculture figures who created the current Punx Of Color ecosystem.
Not fitting in is the best blessing one can be born with. Here's to the rebels, the outliers and the misfits.