You may know Archy Marshall as the genre-defying singer-songwriter and producer King Krule, but his latest project, A New Place 2 Drown, is published under his own name. At once a hugely ambitious and incredibly personal project, A New Place 2 Drown, a collaborative work between Marshall and his brother Jack, is a 208-page book of Archy’s poetry in tandem with Jack’s visual art and photography, and a short film, and an album. The Marshalls’ work is immersive and wholly unique, tied to not only their family bond but to their peer group in South London; their aesthetic and scene is vaguely analogous to some of the more avant-garde tendrils of American skate/graffiti culture, though even that is not wholly descriptive of what they do and who they are.
Self-documentation has been a particular focus of contemporary collaborative visual art, particularly avant-garde art, since the 1960s, and some would say that niche scenes like graffiti culture and the worlds of hip-hop and punk (both genres that absolutely inform the Marshalls’ work), need to remember their histories in order to survive. Hip-hop, which has been traditionally somewhat resistant to self-documentation, has some internally minded historians. Punk, a subgenre that has become somewhat obsessed with nostalgia, has zine archives (Maximum Rocknroll’s massive library, the Riot Grrrl Collection, the DC Punk Archive, the published works of Touch & Go) and oral histories aplenty, as well as visual documentation in the form of show flyer collections and photography. A New Place 2 Drown is clearly informed by both the visual art world movement toward self-documentation and the necessity of niche subcultures to tell their own stories, lest those stories be told poorly for them by outsiders (as has happened to the graffiti world as well as the hip-hop and punk worlds). It is fascinating and entirely necessary.