Vi Subversa was a truly remarkable woman. Those who knew her and worked with her describe someone who was unusually self-aware and politicised. Her politics, which are usually linked with the anarcho-punk movement, included deep and sometimes surprising angles on the way of things.
Penny Rimbaud of Crass explains how Vi (real name Frances Sokolov) appeared when they first met.
“Vi seemed to me to be very in control, and very determined. I was taken aback. There was a sort of seriousness to it, a sense of, ‘Blimey, these people know what they are doing……. Vi was profoundly working-class in her attitude, and that already precluded her from the mainstream of feminism, coupled with her strong socialism and anarchism. She was a hard task to take on.”
In this video, Subversa explains how she rejected the typical expectations of women, and of musicians, implying that she simply had to communicate with the world.
Brighton indie musician and academic, Helen McCookerybook posted an affectionate blog when Subversa died in 2016:
“I cited Vi Subversa as a mentor when Women in Music asked for people to tell them about their mentors. I think it might usually mean a one-to-one relationship, but I would say that she mentored the entire early punk scene in Brighton. Everyone knew and trusted her, even bands from different strands of punk with their silly small-town stand-offs; she was good-natured and listened to immature ramblings and grand plans with the same attention and patience.”
There’s lots more to know about Vi Subversa, the punk scene that she started and the art and political theories that go along with it. Go Google!*
*or get a lovely pamphlet from somewhere. Other searchy software available.