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The Corcoran to Present an Exhibition Exploring DC’s Punk and Go-Go Culture

“Pump Me Up,” curated by graffiti artist and historian Roger Gastman, will document the city’s thriving artistic scenes in the 1980s.

COOL “DISCO” DAN at Good Hope Road, Southeast Washington, 2008. Photo by Rosina Teri Memolo.

The Corcoran announced today that in February it will present the first major museum
exhibition dedicated to DC’s legendary music and art scenes in the ’80s. “Pump Me
Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s” opens February 23, and is curated from the collection
of artist, writer, and producer
Roger Gastman.

Gastman, who grew up in Bethesda, started his first graffiti magazine when he was
19, titled
While You Were Sleeping. In those days, he told the
New York Times last year, “everyone
had a tag. It was just what you did.” Now in his mid-thirties, Gastman co-produced
the Oscar-nominated Banksy documentary,
Exit Through the Gift Shop; published several books, including 2011’s
The History of American Graffiti; and co-curated the “Art in the Streets” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary
Art in Los Angeles last year.

“Pump Me Up” will explore the underground art and music scenes that emerged in DC
30 years ago, including go-go, hip-hop, punk, and the proliferation of graffiti artists
such as Cool “Disco” Dan. The Corcoran’s main atrium rotunda will display artifacts
from the time, including posters, newspaper clippings, photographs, and more, as well
as a timeline detailing key moments in DC history, from the 14th Street riots to the
origins of go-go in the ’60s and ’70s.

The museum hopes to stage a number of different events accompanying the show, including lectures, panel discussions, and more.* Also released alongside the show will be a 320-page book accompanying the exhibition
The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan, a documentary narrated by Henry Rollins and featuring interviews with MacKaye, Marion
Barry, and the late godfather of go-go, Chuck Brown.

*This post has been updated from a previous version.