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Punk is punk but by no means punk: Definition, genre evasion and the quest for an authentic voice in contemporary Russia

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At a recent London seminar on punk in post-socialist Eastern Europe, Penny Rimbaud made an unexpected twist to definitions, stating simply that punk ‘isn’t’. He posits punk as the equivalent of an avant-garde movement that, by its very definition,ceases to be avant-garde from the moment its status enters its self-awareness. Although in many ways controversial, Rimbaud’s argument raises a number of interesting perspectives for our reading and understanding of punk in contemporary Russia, and for how Russian bands relate to and define punk, or try to escape established definitions of it. Rimbaud’s paradox that punk isn’t also finds support in certain aspects of punk’s Russian history. This article investigates how a number of contemporary Russian bands relate to genre. Here it finds two main types of relationship:association with a pre-established genre and genre evasion. What purposes do these strategies serve, and ultimately: is punk? If so, is Russian punk?
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Keywords: Ankylym; Penny Rimbaud; Russia; The Zverstvo; post-Soviet; punk rock

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tromsø University

Publication date: 2012-11-16

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  • Punk & Post-Punk is a journal for academics, artists, journalists and the wider cultural industries. Placing punk and its progeny at the heart of inter-disciplinary investigation, it is the first forum of its kind to explore this rich and influential topic in both historical and critical theoretical terms.
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