Riot Grrrl Exhibition: Punk, Pink and Radical Thinking

Riot Grrrl Exhibition: Punk, Pink and Radical Thinking
Date and time
05 - 29 Mar 2024 (8:00am - 5:00pm)

Parkside Gallery Exhibitions and Events

5 Cardigan Street Birmingham B4 7BD United Kingdom



Parkside Gallery

Loud, Unapologetic and Revolutionary: Riot Grrrl is a new exhibition exploring the mainstream media, feminism and the grrrl power movement.

Curated and designed by third-year Design for Performance student Jem Thorp, Riot Grrrl: 90s Feminist Punk and the NME focuses on exposing sexism within the music scene, and how female punk musicians in the Riot Grrrl movement fought back against it. With original 90s issues of the NME and fan-made zines, see how mainstream media misrepresented this grrrll power movement that would go on to shape modern feminism and change the world with its deafening roar. 

Starting out as project for a second-year module at the School of Art, Jem was introduced to the ADM Archives’ collection of the NME.

Jem said: “The collection is incredible, and the archives have almost every issue of the publication from the 1980s through to the 2010s. Looking through editions from the 1990s, I was angered by the sexism present in the publication and within the music industry at the time – with female artists being reduced to sex symbols and ‘just women’ regardless of their musical talents and accolades.”

Jem’s original brief was to create an exhibition to promote the archives’ NME collection: “I went a little rogue with the brief, opting to highlight the sexism and anti-feminist views of the music industry, rather than just the collection. I have been into the punk/alternative scene since I was young, so wanted to combine these two together – that’s when I discovered Riot Grrrl.”

Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement that began in the early 1990s, combining feminism, punk music and politics, in which women could express anger, rage, and frustration - emotions that were considered socially acceptable for male songwriters but less common for women.

Jem added: “Riot Grrrl combines two of my biggest beliefs – intersectional feminism and loud, lively punk. It was a way to rebel against the toxic masculinity that permeated the punk scene, and challenge the rhetoric of girls not being ‘punk enough’ or good enough musicians, simply because of their gender. It became a way for these she-punks to band together, along with queer, trans, and People of Colour (PoC) punks, and claim a space of their own within the subculture that wanted them gone.”

After exploring the archives for the module, Jem was commissioned by Keeper of the Archives Dr Pedro Cravinho to create an exhibition during Women’s History Month, which has been a journey of learning about the movement and more.

Check out Riot Grrrl in Parkside Gallery from 5 – 29 March.