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‘Mutants of the 67th parallel North’: Punk performance and the transformation of everyday life

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On a hand-made poster in the ‘HQ’ of the Biker Club in Vorkuta, the three members of the local punk band Mazut loom out of the darkness, their faces comically distorted and framed either side by the words ‘Fucking noise’ and ‘Mutant-morons’. This article traces tropes of ‘mutation’, ‘mutant’ and ‘moron’ within the music, performance and self-identifications of punk scene members drawing on interviews, field notes, audio and visual recordings gathered in autumn 2009 in the city of Vorkuta in Russia’s far North. It explores the ‘mutant’ hero as it appears in facial and bodily gestures, song lyrics and everyday talk on the punk scene. It considers the meanings attached to the practice of ‘mutation’ among scene members as well as the unarticulated role it plays in signalling a boundary crossing between ‘everyday life’, marked by heavy physical and emotional demands of routines of paid employment and family lives, and ‘subcultural life’, as a practice of the enactment of (a consciously temporary) freedom from them.

Keywords: Punk; Russia; body; music; performance; subculture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Manchester

Publication date: November 16, 2012

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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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