Liz Ham

Punk Girls

VAULT sits down with Liz Ham, the visionary Australian fashion photographer behind the volume Punk Girls, to talk sartorial semiotics and the correlations between feminism and punk.

By Alison Kubler

It could be argued that there has never been a better time to be a girl. Post-millennial feminism has been redefined and reimagined in ways its original protagonists could never have imagined. SlutWalk anyone? What we make of its rebirth, or rather its renewed relevance – I know, I know, was it ever irrelevant? – is up for discussion. Feminism, post-Harvey Weinstein, has a new fire in the belly. In terms of 20th-century movements and attitudes, there is perhaps nothing more enduring as the influence of punk. While I wasn’t actually old enough to be a punk, a childhood in the 1980s could only be viewed through the lens of punk’s reaction.

A new book of photographs by Liz Ham, one half of House of Riot, the Sydney-based not-for-profit aimed at getting young people engaged with political issues through creative mediums, fashion, artistic collaborations, zines and events, looks at punk in Australia. Punk Girls, 100 portraits photographed over the course of five years on large-format film on a custom-made 5 x 4-inch rangefinder Polaroid conversion camera, is an authentic representation of the punk movement with an important focus on the women who inhabit this world of fashion, music and politics.

With a career spanning more than two decades, Liz Ham has photographed for Vogue, Elle, Russh, Oyster, Dazed & Confused and i-D. In addition to working professionally in fashion editorial and advertising, Ham has exhibited her photographs regularly, with previous solo and group exhibitions at Stills Gallery, Sydney; Project Contemporary Artspace, Wollongong; ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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