Punk shows, protests and parades: Photographs from the underground of New Orleans
New Orleans photographer and filmmaker Beau Patrick Coulon spent much of his teenage years as a juvenile delinquent, living on the streets of Southern California, hitchhiking across the country, and hanging out with punks and anarchists. Later, in his 20s, after working every odd job going, he found his way into photography and filmmaking, and today carries his 35mm everywhere.
Now a new book of his work doesn't just give us a glimpse into Coulon's world over the past five years, featuring imagery of the protests, parades, and the punk scene of New Orleans in all its messy glory; it also gives us an entirely raw perspective of America during the Trump era. Often sentimental, yet frequently striking, Revel & Revolt is a personal account of Coulon's life in the southeastern coast American city and follows his usual theme of class struggle and subculture movements.
Born in Hollywood "under the shadow of the 101 Freeway", Coulon is the eighth of ten siblings and he spent much of his childhood bouncing back and forth between divorced parents in California, Florida, and Oklahoma. At 13 years old, he moved out of his mother's LA apartment to live on the streets with punks he met in Hollywood while skipping school.
As an "unhoused juvenile", Coulon travelled by freight trains, buses, and by thumb – hitch-hiking across the country, following a network of derelict squats, punk houses, collectives, and DIY art spaces. Sometimes he'd return to Oklahoma for a season to "flip burgers" in his father's cafe, or Oakland to spend time with his brother. He worked seasonally pouring concrete in Montana, as a farmworker in Washington, harvesting sugar beets in Minnesota, painting houses in New Orleans, bookbinding in San Francisco, as a line cook in Cincinnati, doing demolition in NYC, and framing art in Tampa Bay. It was through all these experiences that Coulon developed his unique perspective and they continue to inspire his work today.
Although no longer on the road or homeless, Coulon's imagery clearly has an understanding of life on the street and transient Americana, and documents the "uncommon" in a way that is both sentimental and timeless. As the book's description puts it, "In a cultural landscape weighted towards marketed notions of refinement, class, and commerce, Coulon's photographs explore everyday splendour and profound moments that often go unnoticed".
Alongside his photography, Coulon began making films more than a decade ago and he has since worked on over 50 productions ranging from music videos, documentaries, and TV series. He has worked as a camera operator, cinematographer, director, producer, and in a variety of art department roles. When he's not collaborating with a film crew, Coulon is busy with small personal photoshoots, experimenting with a range of analogue film media. As mentioned previously, he mainly uses 35mm Kodak film to explore themes of social unrest, romance, liberation, adventure, and rebellious humour.
With his documentation of alleyways, rail yards, detritus, and bizarre urban landscapes, he introduces us to disregarded spaces and the people that inhabit them. His photographs of punks, parades, and protests are a window into what’s beyond the barricades, in the thick of the action. From this vantage, there is a letting go of preconceived ideas and access to points beyond the dominant narratives.
Revel & Revolt, published on 12 April, doesn't just document the alleyways, rail yards, detritus, and bizarre urban landscapes of his life so far; it introduces us to forgotten or hidden spaces and the people that call them home. These photographs of punks, parades and protests take us right into the thick of the action of the last five years of America, forcing us to leave behind any preconceived ideas and see a very unique and personal perspective.