Photographer Dina Goldstein and Myles Peterson, one of her model-collaborators, at Goldstein’s OG Punk exhibit, which is at the Polygon Gallery until Jan. 2. (photo by Dina Goldstein)
Walking past the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver, it is hard not to be drawn to the photographs adorning the walls. The powerful portraits of self-described original – OG – punks were taken by Jewish community member Dina Goldstein, whose work is known for its thought-provoking social commentary.
The exhibit OG Punk is on display at the gallery until Jan. 2. Curated by Helga Pakassar, it comprises portraits of major figures from the punk rock scene in Vancouver and Victoria, which were taken by Goldstein over the past year. It is accompanied by an audio guide written by author Michael Turner.
Turner notes, “Goldstein gave her model-collaborators little instruction on what to bring to their shoot, apart from their ‘leathers.’ As for poses, these too were left to the model-collaborators, though it should be noted that the poses chosen for display, as portraits, were decided by Goldstein and exhibition curator Helga Pakasaar.”
“I met some of my model-collaborators by chance around my neighbourhood,” Goldstein told the Independent. “They are artists, musicians and punk devotees; most of them over 50, in punk regalia, hairdos, piercings and tattoos. I was excited by their stories and memories of their time as punks during the late ’70s, ’80s and into the ’90s. There was a vibrant punk scene in Vancouver and Victoria, with local bands, like DOA, incorporating activism and social commentary into their music.
“I have always been attracted to individualism – those who openly express themselves, are unconventional and live an authentic existence,” she said. “Some of the punks were ailing and not well. Some key figures had already passed. Most recently, the iconic Chi Pig, who passed a couple of years ago. I felt an urgency to document this generation of local punks. The project evolved into a series when I was able to collect a good amount of participants.”
Among the participants featured are Murray “The Cretin” Acton, Myles Peterson and wendythirteen. Goldstein sent out questionnaires to better understand the participants. Turner discusses some of the responses to the questions – such as “Has punk changed much since the 1980s?” and “Is punk here to stay?” – in the audio guide, the script of which can be found at mtwebsit.blogspot.com/2021/11/og-punk-2.html.
Though none of the model-collaborators to date are Jewish, Goldstein noted that she “will be continuing to photograph more people for this series in January.”
As for what punk means to her, Goldstein said, “I have always been rebellious. I am non-conventional and have a DIY mentality. My photography requires critical thinking and is a form of activism. My art has been described as satirical, irreverent and subversive.
“As one of my model-collaborators Lisa Jak said and I totally agree: ‘Anywhere and anytime that there is oppression, ignorance, intolerance and f–king stupidity – some punk will be there to question and fight it!’”