“Our Troubled Youth” from Artist and Curator Leah DeVun on view in the Tracey/Barry Gallery, March 29 – May 31

"Friendship book,” Leah DeVun, archival inkjet photo, 2014

New York University’s Fales Library presents “Our Troubled Youth”, an exhibition from artist and curator Leah DeVun that traces a complicated history of friendship before social media and explores how these friendships shaped the punk scene of the 80s and 90s.

Through the artist’s personal archive of 1980s and 90s punk ephemera, original photography and video, and materials from the collection in Fales Library, the exhibition uncovers the queer and feminine friendships at the heart of punk arts communities.

The show’s motif is a collection of friendship booklets passed from person to person through pen pal networks. Each page is decorated with hand-drawn notes, favorite bands, and political causes, with subsequent recipients drawing hearts on (or ‘liking’) their favorite pages.

“The books are essentially profiles before Facebook or Instagram and connected underground queer and punk communities. People talk about feeling isolated and counsel each other on coming out; they scrawl messages like ‘dyke power.’ Friendship booklets represent an important history of community support,” said DeVun.

The exhibition spotlights connections between influential figures who helped shape counter-cultural movements, uncovering written correspondence between Ramdasha Bikceem, founder of the punk-intersectional feminist Riot Grrrl zine Gunk, and Wynne Greenwood, artist and founder of the electropop/video project group Tracy + the Plastics.

The exhibition sheds light on the genesis of these important female artists and on the histories of marginalized communities often excluded from official archives. It considers the political choices behind what becomes ‘official’ history and what is considered ‘personal’.

The exhibition also showcases the link between underground movements of the 80s and 90s and social media communities today in sparking political action.

“There’s a lot of energy in online communities. Different communities—queer people, women, people of color—are developing their politics and finding their identity through online conversations, which fits into this trajectory of political action throughout history,” said DeVun.

Leah DeVun collaborated with artist Lauryn Siegel on a video for the exhibition.

“Our Troubled Youth” opening reception is Thursday, March 29, 2018 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Reporters interested in attending should contact Sarah Binney, 212.998.6829, sarah.binney@nyu.edu.

“Our Troubled Youth” on display in the Tracey/Barry Gallery at the Fales Library, 70 Washington Square South, Third Floor from March 29 – May 31 Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R train to 8th Street.]. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

About Fales Library
The Fales Library, comprising more than 365,000 volumes, and over 12,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses The Fales Collection of British and American Literature, the Downtown Collection, and the Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1974 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video objects. The Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection is a vast and rapidly expanding collection of books and manuscripts documenting food and foodways with particular emphasis on New York City. Other strengths of the Fales Library include the Alfred C. Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll, the Robert Frost Library, the Kaplan and Rosenthal Collections of Judaica and Hebraica and the manuscript collections of Elizabeth Robins and Erich Maria Remarque. The Fales Library preserves manuscripts and original editions of books that are rare or important not only because of their texts, but also because of their value as artifacts.

Press Contact

Sarah Binney
Sarah Binney
(212) 998-6829