photo by Ken Salerno

My personal creative conscience blossomed in a dingy rock club called City Gardens. I was fifteen years old and, being too young to drive, I had begged my father to take me to this underground cultural oasis hidden in a bleak neighborhood at the edge of town in Trenton, NJ. He dropped me off and waited in the car so that I could go in to see a band called The Exploited. That night changed my life.

It was a crash course in the study of the American punk rock/hardcore movement and the beginning of what has become a life-long exploration of sub-cultures. The performance that night was shocking and raw; a pure expression of political defiance. There were no spectators, only participants. The place was its own world and the roles of artist and audience were joined to form a cohesive but chaotic whole. It had its own language and its own set of values that emerged to subvert the prevailing cultural norms. I returned repeatedly to City Gardens over the years but those early days were a snapshot in time that faded.

Now there’s is an explosion of sub-cultures burgeoning through our society and once again creator and consumer are fused. As technology has provided a new connectivity, we are approaching a paradigm that empowers us all to engage in a culturally significant conversation. We’ve all been given authorship and the ability to create our own personal mythologies, but we still need archetypes to inspire us.

About Themselves is a curated collection of photo essays and short films about the subversive power of the personal creative vision. It’s about the people that elevate their core values to inform their everyday lives and the hard work required to speak with a singular voice in the emerging chorus of the creative conscience. We will explore the places that attract the dissatisfied and disloyal. Whether on the edge of town or the edge of culture, we will find the pioneers and the dissidents. We’ll investigate their relationships to “home”, whether physical or ideological, and trace the lineage of their philosophies.

As the mainstream culture eagerly consumes the new and the unique, we are reminded that the creative power belongs to us. The smallest act can create shockwaves. There is no them. About Themselves is about the unique creative spirit within all of us. We are all outcasts seeking a glimpse of our own reflection in this collective spectacle that we call “us”.