Girls will be Girls

about the portraits of punk by Kerstin Kary


Kerstin Kary hoists her “Portraits of Punk“ like flags, her slogan „Girls will be Girls“, flying at full mast. Ipso facto the title of her current exhibition spotlights the fact that “Boys will be Boys“ in everything they’re supposed to do or allowed to do, based on the pejorative experience that girls have to be girls in everything they desire or aspire to.

What’s believed to be typical of boys, e.g. stepping out into the spotlight by becoming a musician, has recently been celebrated under the unfortunate title of “ Untypical Girls“ in an English publication, as the counterpart to the male role model. The quality seal „untypical“ is as equally silly as the certificate „strong woman“, positing that women are weak by nature. It also expects, that for women, the typical can only be claimed in derogation from the normal. But even so, there’s no certainty: When the “New York Dolls“ provoked a calculated scandal by going on stage in make-up and women’s clothes it had perfect coolness potential.

The women of German punk wave band Mania D on the other side were referred to as “Dykes“ when they dared to perform in men’s suits. If punk was a revolution

it devoured its women. This of course was only possible because women played a central role in punk.

Never before and never again has there been a youth culture where girls were as present and outrageous in a male domain. Before Riot Grrrl became the brand for this uprising and the band Pussy Riot turned Ecce Homo’s altar into their stage of female joie de vivre, so called front women trod the planks that symbolised the male world. Now they were fronting bands, not backing them on vocals in the shadows of their stars, 10 steps away from fame.

Typically female, meaning radical, they were walking in their own footsteps. Men’s footprints weren’t too big but too worn out for them.


Kerstin Kary’s paintings are very often pure expressions of her deep dedication to music. With her latest picture series she has taken on the task of portraying women in punk. Is she errecting a monument to them? Not at all. Memorials are for all things, places and people that have been. Punk is dead yet alive and kicking. Punk rock is and always will be a synonym for dissolution. Punk girls, besides crossing all mandatory boundaries, went beyond the scope of gender convention.

For this and many other reasons, Kerstin Kary’s punk girls, no matter in what format, are and will always be life-sized.


Text: Henryk Gericke