Transformer Presents Farrah Skeiky PRESENT TENSE: DC Punk and DIY Right Now

By Editorial Team on January 13, 2020

Sat, 18 January 2020 - Sat, 29 February 2020

Image credit: Farrah Skeiky, ​Sem Hastro
Reception: Saturday, January 18 from 6pm to 8pm

Continuing our commitment to highlight the work of exceptional DC-based emerging artists, Transformer’s 17th Annual DC Artist Solo Exhibition presents the work of Farrah Skeiky in her first solo exhibition.

Present Tense reinforces and celebrates the ongoing tradition of punk, hardcore, and DIY music in DC, demonstrated in its most intimate moments. These photographs, made over six years in spaces old and new, champion the subjects as the present and future of this movement, fighting the notion that this section of DC counterculture exists solely in the past. Farrah Skeiky’s powerful photographic work documents and celebrates what is happening in DC’s punk and DIY community in the present. This is an argument against nostalgia, against complacency. It is a celebration of one of the most revered traditions of modern music, in the context of today.

Farrah Skeiky is a music and documentary photographer in Washington, DC. Raised in Seattle and later in the DC suburbs, Skeiky has been immersed in two regions known for significant contributions to underground music that have informed her work. She began photographing live music in 2008, and her role as a musician as well as a zine maker contribute significantly to her photographic perspective. Her work focuses primarily on punk, DIY, and drag communities. Skeiky highlights race and gender inclusion within these groups, and examines how transience works for and against them in an ever changing city. Skeiky has been published in The Washington Post, The Guardian, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Kerrang, NPR, AV Club, NYMag, Vanity Fair, PDN, and more. Her first photo book, Present Tense: DC Punk and DIY Right Now will be released on February 22, 2020. // @reallyfarrah

Present Tense Programming:

    In 1988, Cynthia Connolly published Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground(79-86),now in its seventh edition.This book and the community it amplified were driving forces behind Farrah Skeiky’s relentless documentation of DC’s current punk scene. In anticipation of the release of Present Tense: DC Punk and DIY Right Now, Skeiky is joined by Photographer, Curator, and Artist Cynthia Connolly to discuss the process and culture of documenting DC. As two women photographers with focuses on live music and subcultures, Connolly and Skeiky will dive into the then and now of scene dynamics, the process of documenting live music, self-publishing, the accessibility of photography, and the changing cultural landscape of DC. This talk will be followed by a short Q&A.
    Cynthia Connolly is a photographer, curator, letterpress printer and artist who lives in the Arlington, Virginia. She graduated from both the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and Auburn University’s Rural Studio, worked for Dischord Records and booked an avant-garde performance venue, d.c. space. In 1988 she published Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes From the DC Punk Underground (79–86) through her independent press Sun Dog Propaganda. Internationally shown and a prolific artist, her photographic work, postcards and books were exhibited in Beautiful Losers in the United States and Europe from 2004–2009 establishing herself as a pioneer in DIY culture. Reviewed internationally, her photography is in many private collections, as well as The J. Paul Getty Museum, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Smithsonian Museum of American History and the legacy collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants for her projects, she has been curator for Arlington County, Virginia for over a decade and continues to search the world both as curator and artist to connect disparate places, people and things. Online:
  • Sat. Feb 8, 1-4pm: DIY DAY FOR GIRLS ROCK! DC
    No one is too young to get involved in their local DIY scene. Stop by the Present Tense exhibition for an all ages afternoon of button-pressing, origami zine-making, and polaroid snapping to benefit Girls Rock! DC. Girls Rock! DC is a supportive, inclusive, and creative space for girls and non-binary and other trans youth to develop their self-confidence, build community, rise up, and rock out! They live at the intersection of art, activism, and music education. Girls Rock! DC host summer camps, workshops, after school programs, and more! Learn more at
  • Sat. Feb 22, 6-8pm: BOOK RELEASE
    A work 5 years in the making, Present Tense: DC Punk and DIY, Right Now is Farrah Skeiky’s first book. Present Tense is a celebration of the new wave of DC Hardcore, DIY, and independent music, and an assertion of the strength and persistence of counterculture in DC. Meet us here on February 22nd for the official book release, at which 100 copies of Present Tense will be available for purchase. We’ll round out the night with a performance by a band featured in the book (TBD).
Exhibition Hours:
  • Wednesday to Saturday: 12-6pm
  • by appointment

Transformer is located at 1404 P St. NW.