I am not Penny Rimbaud! Who the hell is Penny Rimbaud?

I am not Penny Rimbaud! Who the hell is Penny Rimbaud?

Ivana Vojnić Vatarić, Marko Vojnić, Mike Dines and Russ Bestley


Published by Itchy Monkey Press

This book is described as a limited edition catalog of Crass-related artwork exhibited at the Living Room Gallery of the Rojc Social Center in Pula, Croatia in May 2019. However, it is about much more, including an interview with Penny Rimbaud, an essay by Rimbaud, notes on the exhibition and reflections on the impact of Crass, says Nathan Brown.

Despite the fact that the print run of 200 copies of I’m not Penny Rimbaud… from Itchy Monkey Press is sold out, I feel that a review deserves to call attention to the work of Itchy Monkey Press. I realize that also puts this piece in the territory of a Bullseye “Here’s what you could have won” style. I will whet your appetite and you will not be able to satisfy it.

When I first saw the title, I was dubious. I thought the book would be more of the existentialist musings of the former Crass member. Some of Penny Rimbaud’s recent productions have hit the mark, but at other times I feel like they’re lost on simple people like me, veering into territory I would uncharitably call psycho-babbling. This has always been the problem of philosophers – at least during their lifetime! They can endure the pleading sycophancy or blind faith of their followers, creating an Emperor’s New Clothes dynamic. Or they may be questioned as to their relevance and potentially rejected. He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy. Fortunately, the core of the book is more grounded.

A brief foreword by Mike Dines outlines the purpose of the book and its relevance. Marko Vojnic’s introduction reveals the importance of Crass to his own development and the group’s continued relevance, while laying out the context in which the exhibition in a social center and Rimbaud’s appearance in it took place. . That in itself speaks to the power of the DIY and self-help values ​​that Crass helped popularize. Penny Rimbaud’s essay Naufragés à Pula digs an existentialist and zen furrow. However, the really interesting part is the transcription of a live conversation between Rimbaud and Iva Horvat during the exhibition. Some of the content is familiar but one of the interesting facets of Rimbaud is that he is an engaging storyteller and often drops new nuggets of information or interpretation that shed light on the understanding of a group that has ceased to exist in 1984 but which still interests and resonates throughout the world.

The images that made up the Crass Records exhibition in Pula are then presented in the following pages (book designer Russ Bestley deserves a mention then). Covers of nearly every Crass Records release were featured, along with collages from publications of Gee Vaucher’s international anthem. Seeing them all together is not only a reminder of the shock of their visual imagery, but also of Crass’ importance in connecting and nurturing the anarcho-punk counterculture of the 80s. This section is followed by a short piece in which Rich Cross revisits the origin and meaning of the Crass logo.

An afterword by Marko Vojnic reflects on Crass’ continued legacy within the anarchist punk counterculture and punk subculture, explaining the difference between the two. Finally, the impact of Crass is demonstrated by a case study – an article on Woodland Records (“Dub for Social Change”) by Matt Martin and Billie Egan. Inspired by Crass and putting ideas into action.

In trying to comprehensively cover the whole story, writing about Crass can risk getting lost in the long grass of small details and losing the reader in the process. I guess the problem is that there has been so much interest. The brevity of this volume is, I think, its strength. This book can be devoured in one sitting or rationed as you see fit, but Crass’ impact to the present day is still noticeable.

Itchy Monkey Press


Lyrics by Nathan Brown. Check out his Louder Than War author archive.

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