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Hidden girls on tape

The fascinating feminist archeology of post punk by the authors of the French punkzine Making Waves
Sophie Zeffira
Kim Kincaid, lead singer of the Neo Boys, from Portland, in 1979. Still from the documentary “Northwest Passage: The Birth Of Portland's D.I.Y. Culture” (Mike Lastra, 2007).
 
“A fanzine which explores the intersections of punk, feminism and womanhood.” The authors of Making Waves define its purpose in so many words. Their names are Camille and Constance and they work out of Rennes, the capital of Brittany, in northeastern France. Camille Lan made the following comments in an interview for Ransom Note,“Making Waves was born after we’d formed a little group of people who were passionately into the post punk era and the women involved in those bands. We were all like a team, sharing fresh discoveries and songs with each other. We were all from different countries and we hadn’t met in real life, but we were all very devoted to those musical exchanges, which step by step became true relationships. The idea of the zine came out from a discussion I happened to have with Mary Jane on last.fm once. At that time, she was doing the Television Dinner podcasts and I was putting together songs I loved for the Gunilla Mixtapes. We were discussing our desire to make something more concrete with all the people involved in our little ‘researchers team’. Mary came up with the idea of a zine focused on these issues!”
 
covers-of-the-three-issues-of-Making-Waves
Covers of the three issues of Making Waves published to date. Purchase or download via tumblr
 
The zine became the first project of the collective founded by Camille and her friend Constance: Rosa Vertov. They confess to taking their inspiration from feminist zines from the 70s and 80s, such as Brass Lip, No Class, Eccentric Sleeve Notes, Mental Children, Shocking Pink or Spare Rib. Their interest in reclaiming bands like Young Marble Giants, Neo Boys or Occult Chemistry led them on an insatiable hunt through videos, television programs and documentaries from the period. They amassed such a huge quantity of material that, three years ago, they decided to compile the most interesting pieces into a series of video compilations called Girls on tape: Video Gems From The 80's. So far, they’ve done four compilations, running 20 to 25 minutes each.
 
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Still from the film Portrait of a Female Drunkard. Ticket of No Return(Ulrike Ottinger, 1979).
 
Aside from the fascinating and heterogeneous qualities of the resulting audiovisual objects, colorful jigsaws of the most underground and feminine side of the post-punk period, perhaps the most interesting aspect of their work lies in its role as an inherent invitation to take a closer look at the original sources. They are documentaries from the period, filmed all around the world, such as Northwest Passage: The Birth Of Portland's D.I.Y. Culture (Mike Lastra, 2007), Debt Begins at 20 (Stephanie Beroes, 1980) about the youngsters of the new wave scene in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), The Wellington Scene, filmed in New Zealand, (Chris Knox, 1980), the Japanese film Rockers (Hideaki Tsushima, 1989) or the feature for Icelandic television Rokk í Reykjavík (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, 1982) featuring an already remarkable, very young Björk, who was lead singer at the time for the band Tappi Tíkarrass. Camille and Constance also hit the nail on the head by interspersing their stimulating compendium of music videos and documentary clips with scenes taken from obscure cult films, like the German Portrait of a Female Drunkard. Ticket of No Return (Ulrike Ottinger, 1979) or Whatever Happened to Susan Jane? (Marc Huestis, 1982), a camp classic that captures crazy times in the Castro district of San Francisco.
 
And now that we all have some homework to do, let’s put it off until tomorrow and watch the entire series of Girls on tape: Video Gems From The 80's.
 
 
 
 
 
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