Photographer Pier Nicola D’Amico Explores Philly Punks in “The Lost Archive”

by Narciso Espiritu

Remember that time you were punk? Like, really, really into the idea: rejecting every established norm, living at the bar, and just doing things to do them. Although I came into the world two years before the Berlin Wall was destroyed, when I discovered punk culture in the late 90s, almost every idea I encountered stuck with me—the rejection of the majority, the music industry, the establishment,  utopian fantasies and, primarily, just being myself, completely regardless of everyone else’ opinions. So, personally, Pier Nicola D’Amico’s work is particularly striking because “The Lost Archive” presents who some of the first punk kids really were.

D’Amico’s photos in “The Lost Archive” were captured when he was a teenager in the late 1970s and early ’80s, bouncing back and forth between Philadelphia and Manhattan, visiting his girlfriend in Philly and going to school in New York City. The kids you see in the pictures are the photographer’s friends and lovers, doing things that a lot of people tend to do: kissing, hugging, and staring blankly into space (it’s hard to look into a camera sometimes). They weren’t just people though, they were punks:

We drank and did drugs to kill the isolation of no future and numb the scornful looks that people gave us on the street. In turn, we scorned commercialism, big music, the hippie generation’s utopian fantasies, and the cultural paradigm around us.

Although D’Amico expresses that a lot of time has passed since then, noting that the punk movement feels too far away from him now, because of how much the world has changed. Think about it. Today, punk is usually referenced as a fashion style. That isn’t completely a bad thing as some of the youths in the photos are quite stylish, but without the context of the big ideas of the punk movement, contemporary punk fashion doesn’t hit the bullseye.

These kids were just living the best way they could: by doing what they wanted to do. Some of them struggled to find their views (inner and worldly); some of them just went motorcycle racing for five years. Or both. They didn’t really care. D’Amico didn’t, either. He just wanted to grab those moments before they were gone—lost—for good. The people in “The Lost Archive” might have felt that way during this time, but we found out about them in these pictures.

Thanks to The Key and Nicola D’Amico

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