Pre-Punk Personality Crisis

Pre-Punk Personality Crisis replicates the trousers worn by Al Green on the cover of his 1973 Greatest Hits record. I made this piece for I’m Still in Love with You, the Los Angeles show that Stephen Hull curated in 1998 as a homage to Al Green’s first album. I remembered the impact in 1977 of punk rock where the sudden iconoclasm licensed all once-marginal musical tastes. Before that time I had felt insecure admitting my fondness for Al Green’s music but the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen and The Saints I’m Stranded made anything possible.

Made of suede, these trousers are extensively embroidered with braid and painted in acrylic to reproduce the flower and butter fly motifs of the original. They were tailored to fit me and were worn at Canary Wharf for a London photo shoot, where I mimicked Al Green’s record cover pose. They use an applied painting practice to enact rituals of fan adulation and to reference the insecurities indicated by the title. It was impossible at the time to find out the actual materials for the original trousers and whether or not the flowers themselves were painted or embroidered. Only years later when I visited Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did I find out that they were painted and that the trousers were probably made of deerskin.