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Viv Albertine Punk Exhibition
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Viv Albertine defaces punk exhibition for ignoring women

After seeing female punk bands erased from an exhibition celebrating the genre, The Slits guitarist decided to take things into her own hands

Last night, Viv Albertine (guitarist of The Slits, and author of memoir Clothes, Music, Boys) was at the British Library, speaking at an event with punk journalist Jon Savage as part of the library’s Punk 1976-78 exhibition, which celebrates 40 years of the countercultural movement.

A blurb providing a short description of the punk movement and its key bands was on display at the event, which hailed Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, The Clash for their ‘grassroots creativity’ and ‘vital cultural legacy’. The only issue, of course, is that the people in these bands were all men.

Albertine, clearly unimpressed at seeing the legacy of female punk bands written out of the narrative again, amended the display to highlight the contributions of The Slits, X-Ray Spex, and Siouxsie & the Banshees. “What about the women!!”, Albertine wrote, signing her name. Twitter users captured the result.

Though journalists have long written women out of music histories, Albertine’s memoir – along with recent, similar books by the likes of Kim Gordon, Patti Smith and more – have countered the very male-centric narratives of rock.

Of course, it’s also important to remember that it’s not just women who are written out: revisit our article Why is the history of punk so white?