Presented in conjunction with DISBAND’s self-titled CD, the videos below document one of the earliest live performances by the group. Performing at Franklin Furnace in New York just a few short months after their formation, DISBAND presented twelve songs with a variety of unconventional instruments, several costume changes, and choreography. Over the next few years, DISBAND played at venues including P.S. 1, Fashion Moda, Mudd Club, and The Kitchen in New York City, as well as at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, often blurring the boundaries between music and performance art.
DISBAND was founded in 1978 by Martha Wilson, Daile Kaplan, and Barbara Ess. Although Kaplan and Ess were members of seminal downtown punk and No Wave bands, Wilson took her lack of musical training as inspiration to formulate this “all-girl conceptual art punk band” in the midst of New York’s No Wave scene. While the group began with standard instruments, they discarded them quickly, focusing on their voices, harmonies, and corporeal percussion (clapping, stomping, etc) as the foundation for witty, humorous, and intellectually biting songs. The lineup was initially fluid, with Daile Kaplan, Barbara Ess, April Gornik, Barbara Kruger, all participating in the early days of the group, along side Martha Wilson. Eventually the line-up shifted to artists Ilona Granet, Donna Henes, Diane Torr, Martha Wilson, and writer Ingrid Sischy. DISBAND performed regularly between 1979 and 1982 at exhibition spaces, clubs, and art festivals throughout the world. DISBAND reunited with Granet, Henes, Torr, and Wilson in 2008 at MoMA PS1’s installation of “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution,” and continue to perform internationally.
The videos below are from an April 1979 DISBAND performance at Franklin Furnace.