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Vida Subterranea:

A rare look inside DIY punk and hardcore scenes all over the world

by Alyssa Bunting

“As far as I could remember, I’ve always been into magazines and photography when I was a kid,” recalled Robert Flores taking a drag off his cigarette as we sat outside Brick at Blue Star Complex. His exhibit Vida Subterranea has been seven to eight years in the making and was shown this past weekend here in San Antonio. “[Glen E.] Friedman was pretty much my inspiration because he captured the late 70s and most of the 80s hardcore punk scenes. When we were kids we didn’t have TV, all we had were magazines. Thrasher magazine was one of them that captured a lot of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, stuff like that.”

Robert Flores’ exhibit, made up of photographs taken in up to ten different countries, provides insight into the culture behind hardcore punk shows all over the world.

According to Flores, the purpose of the exhibit is to capture the energy and power that bands put into their music at shows and to accolade the DIY mentality behind them.

If it wasn’t for hardcore punk, I don’t even think I would be here.

 “It’s all tangled up all together, all the bands you see in my photos, they sing about politics and social living and it’s important to me because I’m a big follower of that,” Flores said on the very important DIY aspect. “They don’t run through a commercial network. Some shows that have been my favorite shows have been in houses or rundown buildings.”

“I like to capture things that people don’t see every day,” he said. “I've talked to people who like shooting photos of their dog and backyard. I like dirty stuff, and just capturing the crazy… the sweat coming off people, the way they react to the noise, that’s what I like to capture.”

In his travels, he has seen different sides of punk culture and what the term may mean in different areas of the world taking into consideration key factors such as different political climates. He explained that everyone has their own opinions and definition of what punk is and that he has been exposed to many explanations through friends and has had his concept dismantled as he got older.  What Flores identifies punk with can be heard through bands like Los Crudos from Chicago, Crass from Europe, and Huasipungo from New York.

“I want people to see the dirty side, I want them to see the noise, the positive energy that these photos are bringing out. The photos may look mean and that all kids do is drink and have fun but it’s not like that, it’s a whole community of kids that love what they do and they have passion for what they do and that means so much to me. If it wasn’t for hardcore punk, I don’t even think I would be here.” Flores said.

Apart from being a highly skilled photographer, Flores’ first love has always been music. Most of his photos were taken while he was traveling with his bands. Flores is in four different groups from all over the U.S. such as 'Sullen Serenade' and 'Christ v Warhol' and is currently working on a project with Monica Richards, who is famous for playing in bands such as Madhouse and Strange Boutique in the 80s.

“The music pretty much brought me to where I am now. The bands that I listen to, the lyrics they sing about and the shows that I go to. I can break it down and say so much about it but the main thing is that music is what brought me to where I am now with the photography and other things.”

While Robert Flores takes his exhibit to Buenos Aires, Argentina and works on his book of photos of his travels and experiences, examples of Robert’s work can be found at www.punkitosphotos.com.