On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Amy Yoshitsu, artist.
Gutter punks act as both an ideal and a marginalized group within the consistently paradoxical subculture that is punk. They exemplify the values of punk by living as a physical marker of anti-authority and are considered part of the vagabond, vagrant, homeless population by the Main Street eye. “Vagabonds throughout history have been seen as ‘indeterminate’ in the sense that they do not exist in fixed social or spatial locations” but are constantly somewhere in the visual public regions of and between cities (Amster, pp. 3). They are associated with danger, poverty, and are “[avatars] of chaos, indeterminacy, and unbounded freedom, suggesting spirit of subversiveness” like pirates and gypsies (Amster, pp. 3). Gutter Punk culture however, reflects a conscious choice – not an end-result – of making visible the displacing nature of capitalism. Some may identify themselves as gypsy-like because they value freedom and transience over a sedentary lifestyle, which, in their view, revolves around answering directly to bosses and landlords. The lifestyle is the goal itself and, though they may not seek conquest, plunder, and discovery, like pirates and other adventurous sea-farers, the world of the “vagabond” is comprised of marginal, public spaces which cumulatively parallel the ocean, in which there exists constant threats of death and destruction but simultaneous physical mobility. The marginality of the sea and coast is defined by exclusion from the system of social interactions inland. The physical world of a place-less traveler is wholly defined by exclusion from the system which facilitates the environmental limits. Both the ocean and marginal, public city spaces require humans to artificially create alternative means for food, clothing, and shelter. The duality between fear and freedom inherent to these spaces defines the vagrant lifestyle just as Henry Miller wrote in his 1991 book On the Fringe: The Dispossessed in America which was quoted in Lost in Space: “on one hand, the vagrant is viewed as an enemy, a disrupter, a menace to establish order, a parasite – he or she is someone to be shunned, stigmatized, or even killed. But the vagrant is romanticized as a vagabonding, unfettered free spirit” (Amster, pp. 4).
Amster, Randall. Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization and Urban Ecology of Homelessness. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing. 1 Jan 2008.