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The Students’ Union Magazine University of the Arts London *SUBVERSIVE/ SUBCULTURE ISSUE


Subversive / Subculture Issue.

CONTENTS.

COLOPHON.

CONTRIBUTORS.

05-08

Publisher The Students’ Union University of the Arts London 65 Davies Street London W1K 5DA

Camberwell College of Arts

Adham Faramawy and Subversive Collective: !WOWOW! 09-14 Join the Dots: A Reflection On The Small Story 15-18 The Mod Culture Revival: Here To Stay Or Gone Tomorrow?

Cover Art Work by John Christopher Smith

Subcultures exist globally, but are present on a local level, and are categorised as reflecting beliefs or interests that are different from the larger cultural group within which they exist. You could say that their purpose is to subvert the natural discourse of society. But it is by no means their only intention; indeed, one can be subversive without being part of a subculture.

19-24

This issue of Less Common More Sense aims to bring together artists and creatives whose work explores subversion, subcultures, or both, and to give you an insight into a small cross section of the subcultures that exist within our society.

Squat

Roma People 25-26 The Moot With No Name 27-30

31-32 Battle 2008 33-38

One may ask ‘what is the relevance of a sausage in a banana here’? We asked ourselves the same question when we came across the unusual submission, but have reached the conclusion that not everything in art has to be obvious! In fact, sometimes the most innocuous images can have the greatest impact. Trust Less Common More Sense – the power of a sausage in a banana will stay with you. Enjoy!

03

39-42 Mainstream Fashion Take On Underground Fetish Dominatrix Gear & Sexual Liberation 43-48

Rachel Brown Printed on recycled paper

Underground New York

Deputy Editor Less Common More Sense

The Bears Have Come Out To Play

Editor-in-Chief Ronan Haughton Deputy Editor Rachel Brown Journalism Sub-Editor Chris Ackerley

Hei Shing Chan MA BOOK ARTS Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design Sylvie Goy PG CERT PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY PRACTICE (ALUMNI 2007) Hannah Devoy BA PRODUCT DESIGN Eva Sajovic BA GRAPHIC DESIGN/ AV, PHOTOGRAPHY Chelsea College of Art and Design Dan Westlake BA FINE ART London College of Communication Chris Ackerley MA JOURNALISM

Fashion Sub-Editor Huma Humayun

George Webster MA JOURNALISM

Lead Designer Hei Shing Chan

John Christopher Smith BA GRAPHIC MEDIA DESIGN, ADVERTISING

Sarah Vanstone MA JOURNALISM

Faith Millin BA PHOTOGRAPHY

Designer Tatiana Woolrych LCMS Logo Design Daniel Camacho Proof Reader Hannah Devoy

Vron Harris MA PHOTOGRAPHY India Roper Evans BA PHOTOGRAPHY Rachel Brown BA PHOTOGRAPHY Tatiana Woolrych BA TYPOGRAPHIC DESIGN Norman Wilcox-Geissen ABC DIPLOMA PHOTOGRAPHY, BA PHOTOGRAPHY (ALUMNI 2006) Selvi May FDA DESIGN FOR GRAPHIC COMMUNICATION

Proof Reader Louisa Koussertari

Daniel Camacho BA GRAPHIC DESIGN

Proof Reader Alex Linsdell

Guillame Mercier BA PHOTOGRAPHY

Alex Linsdell BA MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES

ADVERTISING Amelia Davis ad@bamuk.com 0845 1300 667

London College of Fashion

Production Advisor Guy DeVilliers

Louisa Koussertari FASHION MARKETING AND PROMOTION ONLINE FOUNDATION DEGREE

Agnieszka Jarzebska BA FASHION STUDIES: CULTURE & COMMUNICATION Huma Humayun BA FASHION STUDIES

Grace Buckland BA FASHION DESIGN TECHNOLOGY (WOMENSWEAR) Heather Meikle BA FASHION DESIGN TECHNOLOGY Charlie Athill MA HISTORY AND CULTURE OF FASHION (ALUMNI 2007) Natalie Wardle BA FASHION STUDIES (FMCC PATHWAY)

THANKS TO. John Bloomfield Johnny Eveson Andrea Strachan Duncan Mann David Richardson Jake & Helen Elster-Jones Eldi Dundee James Allan Carolina Herbst Andrew Watson

GET INVOLVED / SUBMIT YOUR WORK. Visit www.suarts.org/lesscommon to submit your work or to find out how to become part of the magazine’s volunteer team. You must be a current student to be part of the team. You must be a current student or an alumnus of the University of the Arts London to submit your work.

© COPYRIGHT 2008. The Students’ Union, University of the Arts London and the authors. No article may be reproduced or altered in any form without the written permission of the editor(s). The views expressed by the contributors/writers are not necessarily those of the editor(s), the publishers or the University of the Arts London.

04


Adham Faramawy and Subversive Collective: !WOWOW!

TEXT BY Selvi May FDA Design for Graphic Communication London College of Communication

SM: Adham, could you tell me how ‘WOWOW’ all began? AF: !WOWOW! was started in 2003 as a performance night at the Joiners pub in Camberwell by a group of students from the Slade, Camberwell and St Martins. The group that started the night and were the initial performers was made up of Matthew Stone, Hanna Hanra, Gareth Pugh, Katie Shillingford, Boo Saville, James Balmforth, Tara Grant and myself. This is a skeleton list - it doesn’t include everyone, as the whole list is huge! The group continued to put on events and performances around Camberwell until we all started squatting in Peckham as a means to carry on making art and exhibiting. We started putting on exhibitions, parties and gigs in late 2004 in the old Co-op building which we named !WOWOW! house. The building was incredible; it included a gym (which at one point belonged

SM= Selvi May AF= Adham Faramawy

SM: Was this around the time Gareth Pugh’s fashion label began to get attention? AF: Yes, this is when Gareth’s career started to take off, which brought a certain level of media attention that has continued to escalate since.

SM: What were the parties and the SM: And what about !WOWOW! gigs like? at the moment, are there any events lined up? Who organized them? AF: The gigs included the Mystery Jets, The Pipettes, The Noisettes and the Rocks and Ludes amongst others. Also there was an incredible performance of ‘Thriller’ by Lali (now Spartacus) Chetwynd. The parties were, for the most part, organised by Matthew Stone, James Balforth and Tamzin Brown, though we all played our parts in putting the events on.

AF: The group expands and contracts according to the nature of the event. !WOWOW! is now a context for creative people to produce and show their work together. It includes artists, film makers, painters, performers, writers, musicians and really anyone else who’s interested in working with us. The most recent performance of ‘Late at Tate’ was orgnised by myself; it is run by Adrian Shaw and was curated by Andy Hunt. The next thing !WOWOW! is doing is a festival in Berlin.

to ‘Wolf’ from the ‘Gladiators’ on ITV), mirrored dance studio (which was my bedroom), a club, theatre, church, Nigerian video shop, tile warehouse and saunas. 05

06


Adham Faramawy and Subversive Collective: !WOWOW!

AF: I studied at the Slade, graduating in 2004. I was

SM: Do you also work outside of !WOWOW!?

one of the people who started !WOWOW! and have

AF: I organised shows separate to the !WOWOW!

worked alongside everyone since, as well as squatting

events as well as screening in clubs and events such

SM: What about yourself?

and exhibiting with them until 2005. I

as the Fe Arts event at

made a film for Nick Knight’s website

the Tate Modern. In 2007

‘Showstudio’ with Tara Grant. In late

I started working with the

2005 I moved into a studio with fashion

URA space in Istanbul,

designer Carri Mundane who has a

including one show which

label called Cassette Playa. I worked

was part of the Istanbul Bi-

on two films for her collections; one was

enniel. I also showed with

exhibited in ‘SidebySide’ in Tokyo and the

The Black Mariah space

second was screened as part of fashion

in Cork, Ireland, Anna

East at the Truman Brewery. It is important

Kustera, New York as well

to note that my attitude to

as the Conference of Birds

art making is very inclusive

in Bangkok.

and post-Pop, in that I refuse to acknowledge definitions of high/low

Carri’s work started to receive acclaim and the New Rave youth cultural phenomenon happened. I moved to my own studio and began to make films in earnest.

SM: How do you describe your work? AF: My work often takes the form of performances or

about the Spectacle, saying that high speed travel and

performative videos focusing on marginalised scientific

tele-media/communication is the spectacle and that

concepts, esoteric Islamic tenet and ancient Egyptian

these have evolved the way that humans perceive and

religious practices bound together by the populist

interact with time and space. We believe that e=mc

formats of MTV and youtube.com

but we don’t understand what that relationship means

2

on the microcosm of human perceptual apparatus. The films have been screened as projections and

I communicated these ideas both in the text on the

on structures made out of defunct televisions and

video and also in the editing, which speeds up as the

LCD screens. For the ‘Late at Tate’ event I screened

piece plays, until it is nothing more than a violent strobe

‘Time Wave Zero’, a film about concepts surrounding

of images and rock music.

non-linear time. The title is taken from a computer programme written by theorist Terrence McKenna.

I also performed ‘I Can Do Impossible Things’ a song

McKenna believes that time is speeding up and

delivered as an echolalic chant in Arabic accompanied

repeating, and that this repetition is also speeding up

by two drummers (Jack Brennan and Craig Bowers).

exponentially towards a singularity at the end of time,

I delivered this dressed as a sci-fi character speaking

located in 2012, which also happens to be the end

in one of the oldest living languages on earth. This of

of the Mayan calendar. I tied his concepts to those

course doesn’t preclude the political aspect of using the

of film maker Maya Deren, who believed that, with

Arabic language. I believe it should be used as much as

the commercial introduction of the airplane, human

possible so as to mainstream it. (For this reason I helped

perception of time and space started to change or

translate the title list on the debut These New Puritans

fold. Also, I linked in Guy Debord’s situationist ideas

album Beat Pyramid.)

07

Adham Faramawy will be showing at the Black Mariah in April and has a solo show at URA! (Istanbul) in May.

art practices. Anyway,

http://myspace.com/adhamfaramawy http://www.myspace.com/uraproject

or commercial/fine

08


Join the Dots: A Reflection On The Small Story

It is this quiet turn that is a noticeable feature of late, not only within contemporary fine arts practices, but also within almost all forms of contemporary discourse. The quiet turn is a turn away from great movements and grand narratives, and the possibilities of effecting great change through mass dissent, to one that favours action on a small scale at grassroots level and which privileges local and minority forms of identification. Gone are the days of bold proclamations against the injustices within our society; gone also is the positive belief in the mass psyche and the force of its most radical gestures. The crumbling architecture and tired machinery of the great modern epoch has given way

Join the Dots A Reflection On The Small Story

PHOTOGRAPHS BY Sylvie Goy Pg Cert in Photography (alumni 2007) Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design TEXT BY Norman Wilcox-Geissen ABC Diploma, Photography BA Photography (alumni 2006) London College of Communication

This article begins as a reflection on a recent exhibition at the Student Union’s ‘We are Arts’ gallery at Southampton Row, Central Saint Martins. The exhibition, ‘What once was, along Goodsway’ is a documentation of a canal-boat community who resided on the Goodsway Moorings at Kings Cross until November 2007, when they were eventually forced to move to make way for the redevelopment of the area, which is primarily to become the new Central Saint Martins College site. The lives and the stories of these former inhabitants, and of their plight, are expressed through the work of several artists in different mediums. Each piece of work reflects an attempt to portray, in an empathetic documentary form, the character of the community and of the individuals that make it, and their closeness to one another. The anecdotes and memorabilia that are conveyed through the presented audio and imagery are aides for identification and understanding. As viewers, we are led into the lives of a community that ‘once was’ and this is effected through a low-key and small-scale intimacy. Yet it is the location of this exhibition that retains its project as being more than merely one of commemoration or nostalgia, as it takes its quiet stance upon the walls of the very institution that is ultimately responsible for the destruction of the community to which it gives a voice. 09

to an ahistorical abyss within which all forms of dissent are neutralised through the naturalisation of an unjust economic system. In losing the ability to position and isolate our advanced-capitalist era within a long historical narrative, it seems that we have lost the ability to envisage an alternative. Within this context, we are compelled to focus our energy and attention on the small stories, since they are often the closest points of identification to our lived realities, and always within reach. The seductive appeal of these comprehensible, tangible and emotive titbits is understandable given our fractured, uncentred personal contexts. We voice our opinions on the multitude of miniaturised issues, as it’s the closest we can come to expressing our dissatisfaction with modern life. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify some positive potential within our contemporary state of affairs, to the extent that the small story and minor struggle contain within them the seeds of much larger issues. Much like the traditional role of folklore and mythology, our most pressing issues, concerns and values are given iconographical form through our representations and their figureheads. Thus, the humanising of complex and increasingly abstract issues and their transformation into more identifiable and accessible forms can be seen to be a valuable factor within our ability to deal with the issues at hand. This same process can be 10


Join the Dots: A Reflection On The Small Story

viewed in its potential to traverse cultural and class

which our lives are colonised by our habitual everyday

boundaries, allowing the alienated individual to

practices - a reclaiming of ‘life’ by the individual

visualise, connect with, and respond to the disparate

subject, in outright opposition to the spectacular

issues that they might otherwise be distanced and

forces of capitalism that deny its very existence.

disconnected from; it brings them closer to home. In

11

a most positive outlook, we may envision a multitude

Unfortunately, these promises all too often fall flat, as the

of individual struggles working toward effecting

barrage of individual stories and campaigns lay waste

larger change through a gradual build-up of forces

to our abilities to form points of connection between

opposed to particular instances of injustice within our

them. It is the specificity of these issues that grants

society. The perpetual flickers of dissent from disparate

them our undivided attention. ‘Undivided’, in this sense,

directions may work to chip away at the apparently

insinuates a form of connection between the story and

impenetrable cloak of normalcy that prevents us from

the reader that is unbroken by its connections to related

fully acknowledging the sickness that extends to the

issues and unaffected by causal relations. It seems that

very foundations of our society. Guy Debord in pre-

this form of isolation, as if situated within a vacuum, is a

68 Paris envisaged the way that small acts of dissent

common condition of the small story. Similarly, it often

could work like ‘detonations’ to instigate mass change.

deceives the reader into allocating a false significance

He encouraged actions that could work to turn the

to relationships with other issues, over and above the

logic of our society upside down in an attempt to

core ones, in order to sustain its sensational appeal.

redefine it, whilst reinstating the place of the individual

Such instances work to distract us from forming the

subject through drawing attention to the extent to

necessary connections with the real issues at hand. An 12


Join the Dots: A Reflection On The Small Story

example of this could be the majority of coverage of

of isolated localities, makes the task of identifying uni-

‘hot’ issues like gang culture and anti-social behaviour.

fied goals an arduous one. Our culture purports to en-

In such cases, we are fed with a wealth of sensationalist

courage individual liberties and diversity, which sadly in

dialogue that not only stops short of tackling the root

practice perpetuates separation, isolation, alienation,

causes (i.e. the social conditions and increasing dispar-

difference, and fear. Thus, the alienation of the individ-

ity that account for growing alienation within working-

ual subject is paralleled in the fragmentation of all of his

class youth culture), but prevents us asking any further

forms of expression and identification. It is these same

questions. The hysteria surrounding cases like the Rhys

factors that contribute to our sense of helplessness and

Jones shooting is understandable given its nature,

which breed apathy, by way of a perverse myth that

yet one would hope that these events could open up

the unjust basis of our modern system is innate, absolute

dialogue over the root causes of this growing trend.

and therefore unalterable. Yet, it would be neither pro-

However, the shock effect of such instances produces a

gressive nor realistic to remain dogmatically distanced

defensive reaction that is perpetuated through the me-

from these contemporary trends and developments, as

dia, which represents the causes as something ‘other’

a project of negation in the guise of subversive identifi-

and counter to our ‘normal’ society. This raw reaction

cation only reinforces difference and alienation and so

of establishing a model of normalcy in opposition to a

works to affirm rather than challenge the problems with

threatening and undefined entity stifles any attempt to

our status quo. As we become subject more and more

discuss its root causes, when the problems are essen-

to a common logic of separation, it is far more urgent

tially derived from the thing considered normal. Thus,

and effective to identify points of connection between

representing issues (like those discussed) as foreign or

disparate forms of resistance; since these relationships

‘other’ ultimately works to affirm and strengthen their

often exist already in essence, it’s basically a process

root causes through a process of normalising our exist-

of their realisation. We must work hard to realise the

ing social conditions.

place of the small story within the bigger picture - its wider signification - and to perceive the extent to which

So, it seems that the more that we are encouraged to

the multitude of minutiae are so closely connected. In

connect with the small story and minor struggle at all

direct equivalence with this, we as individuals urgently

levels of discourse, the more complicated it becomes to

need to recognise our potential power to collectively

clarify our world picture. A babble of disparate voices,

shape and determine our greater contexts. Clarity must

all pursuing their individual agendas across a spectrum

overcome distraction. 14


The Mod Culture Revival: Here To Stay Or Gone Tomorrow?

The Mod Culture Revival: Here To Stay Or Gone Tomorrow?

TEXT BY Natalie Wardle BA Fashion Studies (FMCC Pathway) London College of Fashion ILLUSTRATION BY Tatiana Woolrych BA Typographic Design London College of Communication

Whilst lurking in the dark gloomy shadows of The End’s

such as ‘I’m The Face’

he refers to himself) will

foreboding basement, I cannot help but notice how

and ‘My Generation’.

continue to uphold this

many twiglet-like scenesters have arrived in due flock

Teamed with their violent

manner of existence.

to see current Rockabilly fave The Guillotines. Arriving

behaviour on stage, they

hot off the heels of novelty Goth/Mods The Horrors, they

personified the aggression

The current Western pop

attract a similar self-conscious crowd.

which was omnipresent in

icons of today, including

mod culture.

Lily Allen, Kate Nash,

Adorned in black drainpipes (cut so tight it’s enough

Alexa Chung, Adele, and

to induce deep vein thrombosis) and brutally

The modern Mods appear

even the long established

backcombed hair, it feels as though I’ve walked straight

to be aware of the history

indie sex symbol Karen O

off the set of The Munsters. In reality this is the next

of their ‘forefathers’, and,

(lead singer of the Yeah

generation of Mod subculture.

in many ways, are merely

Yeah Yeahs, who recently

a continuance of these

sported a new Peggy

traditions.

Moffitt-inspired bowl cut)

Mod is also known as Modernism, and was originally a lifestyle movement that circulated around fashion

all favour the current

and music developed in Post-War Britain, when social

According to Leah Crust,

‘mod’ look, and stars such

restrictions were beginning to break down. The origins

a Canadian photography

as Amy Winehouse and

can be traced back to the infamous cultural melting pot

student and self confessed

Pete Doherty promote

of Scotland Road in Liverpool. Suddenly, young working

Mod, today we are just

this trend as a desirable

class people had an accessible income, and began to

‘revisiting the scene

lifestyle. However, once this

take an interest in clothes and music. Thus it became en

and not really living it’,

‘elegantly wasted’ sense

vogue for the upper class to mix with the masses.

explaining that it has

of decadence had hit the

become more of a

mainstream, many of the

Adorned in uniform suits and scooters, British pop and

decadent party thing

fashion conscious saw it

American R ‘n’ B were their music of choice. The first

rather than a way of life.

as cliché to imitate such

wave of Mods, however, pursued a completely different

John Stewart, a 22 yr old

icons and instead hailed

kind of sound from the mainstream society of the early

Dickensian character

more fashion forward

60s, who were currently obsessed with the Beatles.

working in the Men’s

up-and-coming names

Their appreciation of Jazz music originated from Black

Burberry section of

such as Agnes Dean, who

America. They appeared to distinguish themselves as

Selfridges, would agree

represented something

a following, and were attracted to the ‘cool’, stylised

with this former statement.

fresh and untainted. Which

demeanour of jazz musicians such as Miles Davis.

His acceptance into the

leads to the question:

The American jazz records were in short supply in

inner circle of flagship

although these retro stars

Liverpool, but that’s just how the Mods liked it, preferring

British mod band The

are currently at their peak,

to turn their backs on commercialism and veer towards

Rifles, leads him to

will they in a few years

the more obscure. When jazz grew in popularity, the

decipher that although

be merely regarded as

Mod originators progressed to Blues, Rhythm and

certain individuals such

comedic caricatures

Blues, and then Jamaican Blue beat and Ska. The

as himself and his peers

as many have begun

Mods sparked a nationwide interest in original R’n’B or

favour the elements of

to claim? Therefore,

‘Rock’n’Roll’ if you like, championing such bands as The

mod living, it is by no

considering their close

Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, The Kinks,

means a resurrected

association with mod

and The Small Faces. The Who, however, are largely

movement, and in fact

living, will it also be seen

regarded as the most successful Mod band of the time

a fickle trend that the

as outdated?

becoming symbols of rebellion for this new generation.

public will soon discard,

They embodied the future, sporting Mod attire and

despite the fact that

At the moment, however,

haircuts and singing songs about the Mod way of life,

the ‘traditionalists’ (as

the mod flag still seems to


The Mod Culture Revival: Here To Stay Or Gone Tomorrow?

be flying high. Recently

£4, 8pm-1am), both

sub genres. New peer subculture groups, such as

independent run mod

specialising in soul, psych,

the ‘Moths’ - a term coined by The Jam’s Paul Weller

revivalist club nights have

motown and indie pop.

to describe his androgynous up-and-coming club

collectively sprung up

Meanwhile, for staunch

promoter/singer son Sam Weller’s cross breed style;

across London. Go-Go-A-

mod traditionalists,

a combination of Emo/Goth aestheticism with mod

La-Mode!, the 60s-themed

there is the long running

tailoring. This subversive, somewhat fetishist look can

action packed club night

Brighton Rocks, which

be derived from such stars and burlesque pinups as

founded by all girl dance

organises occasional

Dita Von Teese, Immodesty Blaize, Evan Rachel Wood,

group The Actionettes

regional events.

Marilyn Manson and Russell Brand. New wave Goth/

(http://www.myspace.

Alternatively, if ‘hardfloor

punk posing under the guise of Mod was first brought to

com/theactionettes)

60s sounds’ are what

the attention of the mainstream by the aforementioned

and housed in the

your ear craves, head

Horrors, who have been greeted with both rapturous

infamous founding venue

down to Hard As Nails

applause and ridicule in equal measure since their

of anarchism, the 100

(http://www.myspace.

appearance on the London indie club scene. Regular

Club, features everything

com/hardasnailsclub)

attendees of the original art rocker night White Heat

from synchronised go-

upstairs at Clockwork

at Madame Jo Jo’s, their influences encompass post-

go dancing to vintage

96-98 Pentonville Rd.

punk, theatrical horror and, somewhat confusingly, 60s

stalls; this indicates that

Nevertheless, according

girl groups. Their tight creative circle includes all girl

authenticity is the key to

to the Guardian, How

Rockabilly DJ trio The She Set (http://www.myspace.

gaining credibility within

Does It Feel To Be Loved

com/thesheset), and Goth/punk bands Boys of Brazil

the alternative indie

(Canterbury Arms in

(http://www.myspace.com/boysofbrazil), Eighties

scene. The legendary 90s

Brixton and The Phoenix,

Matchbox B-Line Disaster (http://www.myspace.com/

Britpop night Popscene

Cavendish Square, every

eightiesmatchboxblinedisaster),Soho Dolls (http://www.

(http://www.myspace.

first Friday and third

myspace.com/sohodolls) and Xerox Teens (http://www.

com/popsceneclub) was

Saturday, £3 members, £5

myspace.com/xxteens) whom all frequent London’s

also recently resurrected

non members, 9pm-2am)

alternative Goth/Mod scene, including underground

(due to popular demand)

is the ‘best club night in

nights such as U.F.O (http://www.myspace.com/

at the Mean Fiddler,

the world’, an obscure,

ufo_club) and Blitzkrieg Bop at Sin (144 Charing Cross

and is undeniably the

archivist celebration

Road, London, London, WC2H 0LB). Nearest station is

most commercial option,

of the history of sixties

Tottenham Court Road (tube). Dice Club (http://www.

attracting a varied

heartbreak, Northern Soul,

myspace.com/diceclublondon), The Legion, 348 Old

clientele and inspiring

Motown and Girl Groups.

Street, London EC1V 9NQ. See websites for details.

other events for Britpop/

Expect to hear gems from

Mod lovers such as The

the likes of The Smiths and

The relevance of Mod culture today is only significant in

Beat Hotel (at the Buffalo

The Supremes.

terms of a trend revival. Despite certain elements of the

Bar, 259 Upper Street,

lifestyle still being seen in a certain sector of the fashion

London N1every fourth

To complicate the matter

conscious youth, the original mods are regarded by

Friday, £3, 9pm-2am) and

further, the connotations

many as some sort of outdated signifier of rebellion

London Loves (Push, 93

of the word ‘Mod’ are

formulated by their parents, which has no real bearing

Dean Street, London W1D

so varied that it has

on modern day society. I’ll still be keeping those black

3SZ every first Saturday,

began to split into various

drainpipes in my wardrobe though - just to be safe...


Roma People

Roma People

TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY Eva Sajovic BA Graphic Design/ AV, Photography Central Saint Martins

General background

The government’s role in the forced removal of the family makes it one of the most serious such incidents in

There are 7000 Roma in Slovenia. In a survey in 1993

Europe in a decade. And now other municipalities are

there were only 2,293 Slovenian nationals who declared

calling for the removal of Gypsies.

themselves as Roma and 2,847 who proclaimed Roma language as their mother’s tongue.

The European Roma Rights Center criticised the government for setting a dangerous precedent. “Were

Roma live in three main areas of Slovenia: Dolenjska,

this to become a common state of affairs, it would be an

Gorenjska, and Prekmurje. Each group slightly differs

extremely worrying development,” said Claude Cahn, the

from the other two in language (similar to Hindu, both

group’s program director, who called the move ‘a serious

derive from Sanskrit) and culture.

breach of basic civil rights’.

Although Roma are Slovene nationals according to the

According to Slovenia’s ombudsman for human rights,

Constitution, they don’t enjoy equal rights to the other

Matjaz Hanzek, the reaction of the government and

Slovene nationals.

of the public illustrates a deep-rooted prejudice that permeates Slovenian society.

For example, they don’t have a member in the parliament to defend their rights, although they now have a representative on the local level.

Brajdic family In 2005, in the space of a few days there were two bombs dropped into two Roma houses. In one case, this

There is a lot of unemployment amongst the Roma, one

cost the lives of a 46 year old mother (who left behind

of the reasons for that being low levels of education.

three sons, absent at the time of the incident) and of

In Slovenia there are no special schools for the Roma.

her 21 year old daughter, a school assistant.

Children go to school along with other citizens and are often exposed to different forms of exclusion and

In the other instance, a bomb was aimed at the window

impatience. For a lot of them, the first contact with

of a bedroom but hit the pane and bounced back,

Slovene language happens in school. Yet, 70% of Roma

exploding in front of the Brajdic house. There were no

children who have entered the educational system

deaths, although Lucija Brajdic suffered cuts in her

complete it successfully.

stomach from the broken glass.

My project

Rajko Sajnovic, poet and major translator for Roman language

I follow four different Roma families in Slovenia.

Strojan family

Rajko is one of the most important and praised figures in Roma world, and has done a lot to help to preserve

In 2007, the Ambrus affair (taking its name from the

Roma traditions by telling stories from the past and

Ambrus village where the Strojan family lived) took

writing them down. He has published several poetry

place. The Strojans (an extended family of 31 Gypsies,

books, children stories, and novels.

14 of them children) fled their property in Ambrus, Slovenija on October 28 after it was surrounded by a

Kovacic family

mob from Ambrus and nearby villages, threatening

A large family whose lifestyle incorporates Roma

to kill them and demanding their eviction. While the

traditions, as well as a more modern outlook.

police kept the crowd back, Slovenian government officials negotiated the family’s removal to a former army barracks about 30 miles away. 19

20


Roma People

21

22


Roma People

23

24


The Moot With No Name

THE MOOT WITH NO NAME

TEXT BY Sarah Vanstone MA Journalism London College of Communication

The Moot With No Name

live in the city. That is like saying you have to live in the

DEFINITION OF PAGANISM

meeting was as elusive

country in order to be eco-friendly. I recycle. The cities

Paganism is a term which,

to find as Pagans are to

are here, we can’t knock the buildings down, we don’t

from a Western perspective,

society at large. After

have to move into a tent and rub sticks together. There

has come to connote a

half an hour of walking

are no tie dye t-shirts here tonight. We are probably

around back alleys, I

the only ones in the room talking about Paganism. We

finally found The Deveraux

wouldn’t focus on that anymore more than a room

pub and was directed

full of Christians or Muslims would be talking about

up some narrow stairs

themselves”. She quickly dispelled any preconceptions

into a wooden panelled

I had about Paganism being for campers, hippies or

Upcoming events around

room that resembled a

people with large beards, although admittedly there

London can be found at:

15th century tavern. There

were a lot of bearded men there.

‘The Moot With No Name’

was a talk called ‘Capital

broad set of practices or beliefs of any folk religion, and of historical and contemporary polytheistic religions in particular.

meets on alternate

Samhain 31st October (pronounced

Lughnasadh

Sow-in): the Wheel of the

1st August (pronounced

Myths’ by Rob Stephenson,

Bernard Shaws, an events organiser for The South

Wednesdays at 7:30 for

who I discovered does

East London Folklore Society (SELFS), liked Paganism

8pm, at the Deveraux pub

Year is seen to begin at

Loo-nassa): Lughnasadh,

illustrated talks and walks

for being open and accepting of everybody. “We

near Temple tube station.

Samhain, which is also known

otherwise called Lammas,

at Pagan and Folklore

publicise other organisation’s events at whatever venue

Upcoming talks include titles

as Halloween or All Hallows

is the time of the corn

events throughout

we are at, be they a Christian group or The Red Cross

like ‘The Garden of Nuts’

Eve. This is the Celtic New

harvest. This was converted

London.

or whoever. But I went to a Christian group a couple

‘What Heathens Did’ and ‘Of

Year, when the veil between

Heaven, Hell and the Seven-

the worlds of life and death

Headed Serpent’. Details can

stands open. Samhain is a

2nd February: Imbolc,

be found on The South East

festival of the dead, when

also called Oimelc and

Beltane

Pagans remember those

Candlemas, celebrates

30th April: the powers of light

Autumn Equinox

who have gone before and

the awakening of the land

and new life now dance

21 September: day and night

acknowledge the mystery

and the growing power of

and move through all

are in equal length. As the shad-

of death. Pagans celebrate

the Sun. Often, the Goddess

creation. Summer begins and

ows lengthen, Pagans see the

death as a part of life.

is venerated in her aspect

Pagans celebrate Beltane

darker faces of the God and

as the Virgin of Light and

with maypole dances,

Goddess. For many Pagans, this

of months ago, and they wouldn’t take our Paganism A lot of people at the

flyers. They won’t advertise for anyone else.

Moot had an attitude

London Folklore Society:

of being individual and

“It took me about 10 minutes to realise what was going

creative in their approach

on and leave”. A laid back air of acceptance and

to Paganism, rather than

laughter dominated the room; people weren’t afraid

The Pagan Federation:

following one set of rules

to talk about anything, sex, death, or philosophy. If they

www.paganfed.org

or dogma. There is no

were any more laid back they’d be horizontal.

www.selfs.org.uk

Groups to join on Facebook.

set church or rule book,

into the ‘Harvest Festival’

Imbolc

as celebrated by the Christian Church.

leaving people to follow

Later, I got into a conversation with a man on my

com:

Yule

her altar is decked with

symbolising the mystery

rite honours old age and the

the traditions of folklore

right about Edward the Confessor, while someone

The Moot With No Name, Pagan

21st December (archaic

snowdrops, the heralds

of the Sacred Marriage of

approach of winter.

in their own way. Lorna

on my left was talking about having an operation to

London, Alternative events.

form Geola, pronounced

of spring.

Goddess and God.

Cox usually does her

repair his sinuses. A typical night in the pub, really. It

own thing; this was the

ended with a raffle prize draw and questions about

first social group she had

Rob’s talk, with reflections on London history from

come to in years. When

the days when it was a boggy marsh to the Romans,

asked how she reconciled

including ancient Gods from the British Isles that were

living in a city with

romanised and survive into today, such as the national

following an earth based

symbol Britannia. It felt like a scene out of Time Team. I

religion she replied: “You

left feeling welcome and accepted, and that this was

can be a Pagan and still

only the tip of the iceberg.

25

Yula): Yule is the time of the

Samhain

The Wheel of the Year All Pagan traditions are founded upon a vision of Deity manifest in nature.

winter solstice, when the sun

Spring Equinox

Midsummer

child is reborn, an image

21st March: by Spring

21st June: the Summer

turns and returns to Samhain,

of the return of all new life

Equinox, the powers of the

Solstice is sometimes called

the festival of the dead,

born through the love of the

gathering year are equal to

Litha. The God in his light

when we face the Gods in

All seasonal rites are based on nature. Here are the explanations of the main festivals:

Gods. The Norse had a God

the darkness of winter and

aspect is at the height of his

their most awesome forms.

Ullr, and within the Northern

death. Others dedicate this

power and is crowned Lord

It is not a time of fear, but

Tradition Yule is regarded as

time to Eostre, the Anglo-

of Light. It is a time of plenty

to understand that life and

the New Year.

Saxon Goddess of fertility.

and celebration.

death are part of a whole.

31st October: the Wheel

26


Squat

TEXT BY George Webster MA Journalism London College of Communication PHOTOGRAPHS BY Guillame Mercier BA Photography London College of Communication

27

Public space is under many kinds of threat; from the brute force of developers devouring property, to the reckless, market-driven agendas of much council policy. At the same time, many feel that contemporary culture assumes a progressively more insipid hue. Squatting is about the reclamation of space, usually accompanied by a change in its status and character. UK law gives squatters rights of tenancy in certain empty buildings without the owner’s approval. In doing so, it opens up a realm of possibility.


Squat

Our towns and cities are littered with empty buildings of

our country’s richest cultural artifacts was borne of the

every sort, often the neglected pages of inflated prop-

vision of a determined social movement in favour of

erty portfolios. Their owners are mostly disconnected

spatial recuperation.

from the neighbourhoods their oblivion affects. Those neighbourhoods cater less and less for their residents’

Aside from this, squatting presents other fascinating

spatial needs. So when squatters make use of wantonly

building and space usages utterly unique in our society.

wasted spaces, there can hardly be anger or surprise.

The Rampart Social Centre in Whitechapel, East London is a most prominent example. Over the course of

A large proportion of squatters are homeless folk in des-

almost four years, this bastion of open community has

perate need of housing, facing harsh circumstances.

held host to enchanting poetry and music evenings,

This alone provides justification for a statute to legalise

free public food preparation sessions, women’s identity

this practice. But besides the weighty social housing

groups, a wealth of free education workshops, and

issue, there exists a squatting ‘scene’ acting with a quite

much more. Its policy of freely inviting anyone to sug-

different array of purposes. It is often just a matter of es-

gest and carry out uses for the space makes it a public

tablishing private living quarters, as dispossessed locals

hub in the highest sense, testament to the power of

are squeezed out of an ever more elitist housing market.

creativity and good will against the tide.

Others are artists who lack alternatives, who want to realise fantasies outside of restrictive institutional protocol.

Moreover, few other spaces lend themselves to activ-

Others still are those seeking to create public, autono-

ist organisation as has the Rampart. Thanks to its sup-

mous zones offering a most valuable counterpoint of

port of protest, it is now a perennial fixture on police

reflection and critique on society and its mores.

surveillance operations at events such as DSEi, the UK’s largest arms fair. Squats like Rampart feature as vital

The spaces thus emerging offer exploratory experi-

mobilisation points for anti-establishment efforts under-

ences. It is in this sphere that we find an important

resourced through disenfranchisement. Though we may

alternative (or antidote) to common forms of living

disagree with certain activist objectives, let’s remember

(and playing). Our society and its people are sub-

that many of our most cherished rights once lingered at

merged in a narrow strain of life, too busy to question

the political periphery where squats are most needed.

or delve into other modes of existence and thought.

Although currently wading through an involved eviction

Squats provide a thrilling springboard for these natu-

process, the Rampart collective looks to the future with

ral curiosities.

an abundance of plans and spaces in mind.

Exemplary among such outlets are squat parties.

The UK, and Europe in general, have a bubbling under-

Clandestine affairs in forgotten crevices of urbanity,

current of activity occurring throughout. In early April,

these debaucherous playhouses have welcomed the

a global call for action (http://april2008.squat.net/)

most liberated ventures into the bizarre and wondrous.

hopes to give life to a surge of squat related activity. In

With an unmatched degree of escapism, the squat

response to hostility by governments, this push hopes

party often constitutes an experiment in fringe culture,

to catalyse an ethos of visibility and solidarity for squats

unorthodox behaviour, art, architecture, autonomous

and their users as a political movement. That, of course,

political arrangement and more. The buildings most

could mean you.

audaciously used to this end have included enormous cargo warehouses and abandoned university com-

At a time when apathy runs rife and forces shape the

pounds. Sound systems, cinemas and circuses have

public domain on our behalf, we must look to potent

transformed otherwise useless voids into collective

forms of creativity and protest to replenish our posi-

organisms of vitality and imagination. There is noth-

tion in the debate. Squatting is a most important social

ing comparable to the thoughts and feelings that this

instrument, bequeathed to you by legal history and

spectacle breeds; a truly inimitable encounter that all

ingrained in the fabric of human conscience. Use it with

open-minded individuals owe themselves. In fact, it was

care, to create and to question, to live and to dance.

the very spirit of squatting that gave birth to free parties

It may be your most poignant escape; a magnificent

and acid house culture. What has come to be one of

entrance to something other. 30


Battle 2008

Battle 2008

TEXT BY Faith Millin BA Photography London College of Communication STILLS BY Emile Kelly

‘Battle 2008’ is a project that explores contemporary

affiliation. The old church halls that I have chosen as the

youth music culture in London. It studies the notion of a

venue for these events create a strange environment

scene, and the boundaries and barriers that a scene

for these individuals to dance in, compared with the

can create. The project observes, not only the stylistic

comfortable social contexts that they are used to. This

aspects of youth music culture, but also the specific

work uses still photography, video and interactive art

lifestyles that this type of culture can create. The project

as tools to explore the social phenomenon of youth

uses dance to explore these lifestyles and to experiment

music culture and music subculture. Additionally, the

with their varied contexts. ‘Battle 2008’ contains three

project acts as a social experiment. The ‘live’ aspect

practical elements; a video, a catalogue, and a series

of this project demonstrates that a re-enactment of

of live events. The project is structured through large-

lifestyle through dance is a moment not merely to be

scale events directed by myself between October

viewed but also experienced.

2007 and June 2008. For these events, individuals from different music cultures have responded to invitations.

My work will be shown at the BA Photography final show

Each individual is asked to select a song and to appear

on 3rd June and also in the Brighton Photo Fringe in

at a specific location to dance on camera. The

October 2008. To take part in the next event contact

chosen song, and the style or manner of dance by the

fwaf2k@hotmail.com

individual in question, represents the music subculture (or ‘scene’) with which they feel a particularly close 31

32


The roots of this scene

UNDERGROUND NEW YORK CROSS CULTURAL CONNECTIONS: THE FUSION BETWEEN DANCE MUSIC, CLUB CULTURE AND ART IN NYC 1975–1985.

date back to the early discos and loft parties of the 1970s, which led to a clashing of scenes and cultures mediated through art, music and the nightlife scene of the time which, in turn, went on to influence mainstream music and popular culture - an influence that still reverberates today. The Lower East Side has always been home to immigrant communities, and it could be argued that the energy of the area is due, in part, to these ambitious, hard working settlers. But LES has also been the home to another kind of migrant; those who where born

TEXT AND IMAGES BY Dan Westlake BA Fine Art Chelsea College of Art and Design

in the United States but

The 1980s New York underground scene was centred around the city’s Lower East Side (LES), the exact boundaries of which are somewhat contentious, but could be said to encompass the East Village, Alphabet City, Chinatown, the Bowery and Little Italy. A definitive definition is superfluous, LES being more a state of mind than an exact geographic location. Its creative energy came from a multicultural cross pollination of musical genres, sexual politics, ethnic identities and economic classes; an eclectic mix that was reflected in the art and music produced at the time, mixing elements taken from a history of avant-garde experimentalism, street culture and pop culture.

wished to escape from a parochial, conformist and God-fearing America; attracted to the ‘bright lights/big city’ in search of liberation and excitement. It was the combustion caused by mixing those that came to New York for economic reasons with those that came for diverse cultural reasons that gave LES its creative energy. Political and artistic radicalism has always been present in LES. In the early 20th century Leon Trotsky, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were all residents; in the mid1950s a bar called The Five Spot on Cooper Square was the haunt of writers such as Jack Kerouac and Frank O’Hara, jazz musicians like Charles Mingus


and Sonny Rollins, and artists such as abstract expres-

example, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring,

with at Club 57. Haring’s

Paradise Garage that

artworks of the late 20th century signalling the moment

sionists William de Kooning and Larry River.

applying their symbolism-laced paintings directly to

trademark dancing figures

Haring did one of his most

when post-modernism went from being primarily an

public spaces influenced as much by hip-hop graffiti as

have been said to reflect

iconic works, painting

architectural practice and an abstract concept in

By the 1970s, economic migration had caused a vibrant

Barthe’s and Umberto Eco’s works on semiotics; or Jeff

the tribal spirituality he

Grace Jones - literally.

critical theory to the defining cultural phenomenon of

Puerto Rican community to flourish alongside a more

Koons’ critique/celebration of consumerism and later

found on the Paradise

established and by now economically comfortable

the language of pornography.

Garage dance floor. In

The record that most

middle class, formed from previous immigrant

its time.

the words of Robert Farris

captures the spirit and

Released the same year as ‘Simulacres et Simulation’,

communities. But the oil crises of the 70s created a

While the vitality of this scene was down to its fusion of

Thompson, professor

energy of the place and

the track is the embodiment of Baudrillard’s theory.

spiral of economic hardship followed by increasing

cultures, its energy was created by the interpersonal

of Africa-American

time is ‘Adventures on

It uses both the iconic Chic track ‘Good Times’ (which

crime, white flight and dis-investment. By 1980, LES had

connections of individuals as well as groups. For

history at Yale University,

the Wheels of Steel’ by

‘appropriated’ its bassline from Queen’s ‘Another One

a reputation for its thriving cocaine and heroin market.

instance, the white punk-rock crowd who attended

the Paradise Garage

Grandmaster Flash &

Bites the Dust’) and Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ which, in turn,

However, this ushered in a fresh period for downtown

the legendry CBGBs club on the Bowery may seem a

‘confirmed Keith’s vision

The Furious Five, a seven

referenced ‘Good Times’ and features a rap written

as a new wave of artists began to move into the area,

world away from the young black and Hispanic break-

of blacks on the dance

minute sonic collage that

by the graffiti artist ‘Fab Five Freddy’, that in turn refers

attracted by the low rent, history of radicalism, and

dancers who danced to DJ Africa Bambaataa at ‘the

floor as an “icon of life

eclectically appropriated

back to the track it became part of by namechecking

possibly the thriving cocaine and heroin market.

Roxy’ roller disco. But the Roxy’s regular break-dance

and continuity…” he

and re-contextualised a

‘Flash’ himself. At the time, this multilayered referencing

outfit, The Rock Steady Crew, also performed at venues

owed some of his most

number of popular hip-

completely redefined what a popular piece of music

From the early 1970s onwards David Mancuso, a

such as the Punk/New Wave Mudd Club, home to

expressive dancing

hop, new wave, disco

could be. While both the collage and readymade

disciple of acid evangelist Timothy Leary, hosted private

downtown scenesters such as David Byrne, Jean-Michel

outlines to close

and rock tracks of the

had been avant garde staples of artists such as Picasso,

dance parties in his LES loft apartment inspired by

Baquiat, Vincent Gallo and Debbie Harry.

observation of African-

time. It would not be an

Duchump and Pierre Schaeffer, native New Yorker Steve

Americans performing

exaggeration to claim it as

Reich claimed it was still a giant leap, being the first

there.’ It was at the

one of the most important

ever piece of commercially released music constructed

Leary’s psychedelic ‘happenings’. ‘Love Saves (the) Day’, the title of the very first party, illustrates both

A few blocks away, the gay Hispanic and black

Mancuso’s idealistic hippy roots and the drug of choice

dancers at the Paradise Garage danced to Larry

(LSD). The crowd was a diverse mixture of artists, hippies

Levan’s eclectic disco selection, among them Keith

and others on the fringes of society, including a large

Haring, Basquiat’s friend and rival who he had exhibited

entirely out of other peoples ‘original’ material. In 1981 the first cases of AIDS (originally labelled ‘Gay

contingent of black and Latino gay men. The end of

Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome’) were reported

the 1960s had witnessed the Stonewall riots, where a

in New York. Due to its hedonistic culture of drugs

violent response to police harassment kick-started the

and sex, those involved in the downtown scene were

gay rights movement. Being a private party and not

tragically susceptible to the illness and by the time

a public venue, ‘The Loft’, as it came to be known,

Keith Haring died of an HIV related illness in February

provided a space where gay men could dance and

1990, the party was definitely over. A gentrification

commune without fear of harassment. Both Leary and

programme and later Mayor Giuliani’s “zero tolerance”

Mancuso were obsessed with detail and what they

policies further dampened down the anarchic spirit

called the ‘set and setting’ of the party; a complete

of the LES’s underground scene. But by this time, the

dedication to audio fidelity was complemented by

influence of underground 1980s NYC on mainstream

lights and décor. Most of New York’s leading DJs of the

culture was pervasive. LES scenester Madonna (who

1980s and 1990s had attended Mancuso’s loft parties

was a regular at the major clubs, hanging out with

and owed a large part of their musical education to his

Haring at the Paradise Garage and sleeping with

eclectic mix of music. The most famous of these being

Basquiat) was by now the most famous woman on the

the Paradise Garage’s Larry Levan who, alongside

planet. Even as a mainstream superstar, her eclectic

his partner in crime and fellow Loft regular Frankie

appropriation and mixing of multiple styles and genres

Knuckles, invented the styles of music we now know as

reflects her creative LES background. At the same time,

house and garage. It is interesting to note that, even

the ecstasy and dance music combination pioneered

though he was one of the most influential DJs of all

by mainly black and Hispanic gay New Yorkers (and

time, Mancuso did not describe himself as such but

Chicagoans) was now labelled acid house (later rave)

simply as a ‘musical host’.

and was now a global lifestyle choice. In the art world Charles Saatchi, who first earned his reputation as a

The work produced by the new wave of LES artists

serious player in the art world by showing ‘hot’ LES

avoids neat categorisation. Unlike previous New York art

artists such as Koons, Basquiat and Haring alongside

scenes such as the Abstract Expressionists or Pop Artists

more established names, was about to become one of

there was no house style or homogenous philosophy

the most powerful men in the art world.

connecting them. Instead, an ethos of post-modern eclecticism was present, and borrowing from the language and techniques of modernism, primitive cultures and the mass media were all prevalent. For


Today we continue to see the influence of

provided a space so

music press obsessed with

downtown New York’s punk/disco sounds in a host

that a diverse group of

white male-dominated

of contemporary bands such as The Rapture, Franz

people, marginalised and

rock music; the disco

Ferdinand, Liars, Interpol, New Young Pony Club and

discriminated against by

music spawned by the

Prinzhorn Dance School, mining a formula first explored

mainstream American

downtown scene has had

by underground New York acts such as Liquid Liquid,

culture, could come

a profound influence on

Bush Tetris, The Bloods and particularly the legendary

together in a spirit of

today’s society. Everything

E.S.G. The ‘I Heart NY’ t-shirts have for years been an

hedonism and friendship

from the explosion of what

art student staple at London’s trendier clubs, but while

to take drugs, listen to

is referred to as ‘Dance

this mimicking of LES style might be seen as relatively

music and dance. A

Music’ (with its numerous

superficial, the wider effects on our culture are so

‘free’ culture operated

and ever mutating

pervasive that they are not always obvious to see. For

where the small price

sub-genres), DJ worship,

instance, the Pink Dollar is now estimated to be worth

of admission would be

remix culture, to the

an estimated $350bn a year to the U.S. economy alone.

ploughed back into

opening up of the night

Post-Stonewall, LES was one of the first places gay

the party, drugs were

time economy in Britain’s

men felt the confidence to openly identify themselves

taken to ‘free up’ the

cities and the recognition

culturally, and the clubs and discos they attended

consciousness, and

of the importance of

were the first places that they could be seen as a

‘free’ love was the norm,

the ‘pink pound’.

homogeneous group to be commercially targeted or

as networks of friends

This can all be traced

exploited, depending on your views on capitalism.

replaced the nuclear

directly back to the

family as the primary unit

actions of a small group

of social cohesion.

of individuals who came

It is indeed an irony that, before its transformation into a commercial product, the dance music-based club

together in the early 1970s

scene did in fact provide a live model for an alternative

Though widely trivialised,

to dance in a converted

to a capitalist based society before it was co-opted,

patronised and ignored

loft apartment in

consumed, exploited and ultimately illegitimatised

by a mainstream and

downtown New York City.

by a said capitalist system. A loft apartment in NYC

(so-called) alternative


PHOTOGRAPHY BY David Richardson

TEXT BY Agnieszka Jarzebska BA Fashion Studies: Culture & Communication, London College of Fashion

TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN

While there are people running around in leather corsets without a thought for the fetishistic roots of their fashion, there are fetishists running around fretting that their magical objects are losing their power. Although common fetishes include leather, latex or rubber clothing, and high-heeled footwear or boots, fetishes are often as individual as the person. False eyelashes, heavy make up, rubber mackintoshes, body

The popularity of venues

rings or tattoos are the

such as the Torture

unique visual language

Garden, billed as the

of a one’s liberation.

world’s largest Body

As a consequence,

Art Club, indicates that

designers are finding

this form of dressing

inspiration by raiding the

up seems to be more

fetishists’ closest, but what

about fantasy and

influences the coming

transformation than just

and going of fetishistic

latex and pain. Creating

trends? A taste of a

an environment that

rubber, perhaps!

accepts and encourages free self-expression, the founders claim their crowd is to be “the most diverse, from young fashionable clubber to alternative arty weirdo and burlesque cabaret fan to sophisticated SM regular”. TG doesn’t want to stand just for adult dress-up parties but also for more significantly themed events, such as role-play and car crash scenarios. Decadence is clearly back.

40


Another leader in this genre is German label Fraulein

Fashion photographer David Richardson, who has shot

With this emphasis on

collections for young designers from LCF, has been a

novelty, I see the future

close observer of these trends.

for latex (or similar future fabrics) in being

Ehrhardt and her High Gloss

Agnieszka: What do you think of the mainstream designers’ take on the rubber and latex?

In the 80s and early 90s,

Dolls. Photographer and

Fetish and S&M were still

founder Katja Ehrhardt uses

considered taboo, and

glossy fashion images to

dressing in rubber and going

promote an extremely sexy

to a fetish club seemed a

line of lingerie together with

dangerous idea. However, as

party dresses that have

David Richardson: After what, for the moment, looks

numbers grew at prestigious

a fetish / BDSM flavour,

like the highpoint of latex use and fetish scene influence on the

venues such as the Ministry of

which are mostly seen in

catwalks for AW 07/8, Balenciaga is one of the only major de-

Sound, and creativity in this

publications such as German

signers to employ latex (or a future fabric with similar proper-

area started to influence the

Penthouse, Fet-X, or Playboy.

ties) for AW 08/9. I don’t see the influence going away though.

mainstream, interest in fetish

timeless and beautiful out

Whereas Atsuko Kudo almost

One is left wondering if body

began to become a trend.

of a raw material like rubber

exclusively designs upmarket

parts aren’t more likely to be

As British society opened up

or latex? Some made to

dresses for stage and film, as

objects of a sexual fetish than

to sexuality in general during

measure pieces have sold

opposed to Ehrhardt’s cut

clothing itself?

the late 90s, the media also

for hundreds of pounds and

for the bedroom and party

changed their attitude.

have found wide public

occasions, both designers

Last year fashion designers

interest, including the range

have to admit they create

like Dolce & Gabbana

“…Fetish Evolution has

made by Atsuko Kudo,

mainly for women, who wish

featured metallic cocktail

DR: With what Viktor and Rolf have been criticising as the

everything you need for

who creates posh and sexy

to look and feel beautiful,

dresses cinched with wide

fast pace of change in fashion, I don’t think it’s a surprise to

a pervy Easter Weekend,”

couture latex. Kudo, who

feminine and strong in order

belts, Alexander McQueen

see the fetish influence pushed back to a styling accent this

announced Skin Two

graduated from London

to show their curves.

offered moulded latex

season. There’s a cultural thirst for novelty which designers are

magazine to encourage

College of Fashion, has her

armour, Burberry decided

rather powerless to resist. It’s difficult not to renew things other-

taking part in fetish parties

rubber emporium Showgirls

to launch heavily stitched

wise one risks looking behind the curve.

this March in Germany. A

on Holloway Road in London.

glossy issue on fetish fashion

From sassy party numbers to

Likewise, mainstream

made a move from girlish

and culture featured BDSM/

more day-to-day ensembles,

fashion designers tend to

tea dresses to leather shifts

fetish photography and art,

the designs prove to be

emphasise a woman’s body

with chunky zips. The fashion

introducing names such as

an essential, whatever the

and, not for the first time,

ads are full of ladies wearing

Barbara Nitke and Michael

occasion.

are all over fetish fashion

tight and sexy clothing

again. Vivienne Westwood

predatory poses.

Manning. Fetish fiction

Evolution or revolution?

It’s become part of the design palette.

A: Why then aren’t we seeing more latex clothing taking to the runway rather than just as additional accents?

leather gloves, and Mulberry

ways. This was really how I saw Heather Meikle’s collection. To combine latex with a 50s silhouette was quite ground breaking. I wanted to reference the conservatism of the silhouette so located the shoot in a suburban domestic context. We of course needed to also represent the radicalism of Heather’s work, hence the mask of light, the feeling that everything was at risk of immanent collapse, slippage, a sense of a hidden darkness behind the façade, perhaps a little like Desperate Housewives. So I can see latex

A: But what about leather? It’s also very dominatrix!

and fetish influences continuing. Their use remains a strong signifier for the avant garde, for

DR: Whilst black leather continues as a major force for AW

created by David Aaron

“Latex, when cut and

supported the look back

Clarke and expert writers

designed well, can be worn

in the 70s in her shop ‘Sex’.

This Season, fetish has filtered

(now in a more gothic way), I think latex acts as a symbol

such as Susan Wright and

in any context by anyone

Photos of her pieces were

through again in a variety of

which leather can’t. In its cling and shine it has more

Daryl Champion, together

who wishes to look and feel

published in Vogue and

accessories such as Prada’s

glamour than leather. It therefore has greater scope for use in,

with great illustrations by

beautiful, feminine and

set off a trend for fetish,

latex knuckle gloves or

or to style, edgy eveningwear or even work wear as we did in

Sardax, gave the reader an

strong,” Kudo states simply

which has become mass as

hats. Meanwhile, Hussein

these shoots.

insight into the goings on

and adds, “last year, we

opposed to niche, and found

Chalayan accessorised his

within this scene.

seemed to get the

different interpretations. In

Autumn/Winter collection

call from Hollywood”. The

August 2007, fashion journalist

with latex stockings from

Who does the best latex cut?

latest collection is just

Hadley Freeman stated in the

Atsuko Kudo in black and

The idea of latex wear being

outstanding, and can’t be

The Guardian that “there is

metallic shades. Nicolas

taken out of the dungeon

mistaken for any other latex

something dubious about the

Ghesquière for Balenciaga

and put onto the catwalk

designer. It brings together

industry’s belief that the only

had yet more to offer with

seems to be challenging.

the New Burlesque look with

other option for a woman

more severe shining latex

DR: This styling accent was how we used the Atsudo Kudo

How does one confront the

its mix of 1950’s glamour, and

is to dress as if she charges

and plastics. Wet-look rubber

latex legs in the Grace Buckland shoot. Following Chalayan

strong associations between

modern fetish, combining

by the hour. A child or a

coats and latex biker jackets

we used them to draw out the edge in Grace’s sharp tailoring

fetish and the bizarre and

it with a method of printing

madam: ladies, those are

formed a kind of elegant

which was influenced by 1930s modernism and a well known

as well as create something

lace on to latex.

your choices”.

dominatrix uniform.

skyscraper in her native Hong Kong.

41

employed in unexpected

08/9 and there’s undeniably lots of edge to the season

sexual power, alternative glamour, androygenising feminity and in making statements to challenge the moribund status quo.

A: Tell me about your shoots with students from LCF and how you applied the fetishistic elements…

42


The Bears Have Come Out To Play

TEXT BY Charlie Athill MA History and Culture of Fashion London College of Fashion (alumni 2007)

On any Sunday at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern a largely middle-aged crowd of casually dressed men gather to down beers and meet friends. True, the occasional all-nighter, still flying on a cocktail of drugs that has kept him going round the clock, stumbles through the throng but the atmosphere is essentially polite, friendly, even restrained. There is, however, a buzz of anticipation that begins to take off when legendary drag act ‘The Dame Edna Experience’ hits the stage and a change begins to take place. The transformation of the crowd is prefigured and then mirrored by the show itself as Dame Edna, classically dragged up as a parody of the famous Australian parody, steers a surreal course that becomes more excessive by the minute. This is a nostalgia-fest and the likes of Kate Bush and Minnie Ripperton are interspersed by a mixture of traditional smut, sharp social commentary and a barrage of insults that goad the crowd to whoop and bellow their joyful Vaudeville response. By the end of the show, the crowd has become a collective mass, swaying in anticipation of an encore and chanting ‘her’ name. As ‘she’ departs the lights lower and shirts are removed as the music lifts to a dance beat. The earlier polite dynamic has changed and suddenly the space is an active mass of bodies that will never grace the catwalk of Mr Gay UK, will never decorate the front cover of Boyz or GX and will never advertise a two week all-inclusive in Mikinos or Ibiza. As journalist Ken Powers eloquently puts it: ‘‘The Appolonian… artificial beauty of man began being replaced by a more Dionysian… natural one. Gay men began to look behind the masks, and curiously enough discovered their own naturalised humanity in the form of a great grizzly who came in their dreams and growled to “come along and learn and play”’.

43

PHOTOGRAPHS BY India Roper Evans BA Photography London College of Communication


The Bears Have Come Out To Play

‘there’s all those really big guys who get really great trade…There are all these big guys who get loads of skinny guys with big cocks’. In bear circles the rotund, Falstaffian body-subject clearly possesses sexual

In the gallery, at the back, the established ‘lair’ of the

perfection and disregarded the vanity that drives the

biggest, hairiest and most classically bear bodies has

very desire for it.

capital and, when na-

but the drugs are ‘kicking in’ and the dance floor

Although what constitutes a bear is more than merely

object of desire. It should

heaves with various forms of Rabellaisian excess. It is

being fat, and there is certainly no one body shape,

seven o’clock.

size is celebrated rather than censured, as in the gay

become a wall of flesh. Drinks are still being consumed

mainstream. There are, in fact, a plethora of bear sub-

ked, is even more the be remembered, however, that not all is one big party. One of the cruellest injustices that HIV/AIDS

In Vauxhall, Southwark and in a variety of dens across

categories, which reveals as much about the American

London, bears are playing as never before, but

obsession with labels as they do about their supposed

what strikes the novice first (in any venue that bears

membership. While, as mentioned, most self-identify-

congregate) is the total lack of self-consciousness. The

ing bears are on the larger side, and chubbs, who are

scene at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is repeated on a far

smooth but decidedly hefty, have often become assimi-

larger scale every Wednesday and Saturday at bear

lated into the bear world, perhaps the most identifying

mecca XXL in London Bridge, but also at Megawoof,

feature is body hair. Cubs are young, plump and play-

and elsewhere in other Vauxhall gay clubs where

ful, muscle bears flex gigantic abs and otters, hairy but

pockets of bears have decided to strut their often

slim, slink here and there with an agile gait. What they

considerable self.

have in common is what they are not, and that is buff.

many HIV-positive men this

Although first used as a self-identifying term within

When French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu coined the term

form of muscularity. Oth-

the gay media in 1986 in the States, bear historian Les

‘cultural capital’ to explain the intrinsic value that can

Wright contends that the phenomenon was just one of

be represented by either privileged knowledge or up-

a myriad of polarized gay identities, thrown up by the

bringing, he initiated a concept that has been amend-

1960s. Whereas in the seventies the mainstream be-

ed by later social commentators to incorporate other

came dominated by the disco bunny and later clone

forms of capital, such as the physical, in which the body

aesthetic, the roots of the bear movement lay on the

becomes the bearer of social value. In the gay commu-

fringes of the gay movement, in those excluded by an

nity there is considerable physical sub-cultural capital to

increasingly body-conscious community. Partly inher-

be found in the buff, the slim, the hairless. What makes

ited from the Mirth and Girth clubs of the West Coast

bears so socially significant is how they have managed

and Florida, where big men felt free to congregate

to transform the very notion of what is desirable. While

and presumably, to chuckle together, the entire bear

there have always been those who have not conformed

phenomenon really developed as a survival response

to current orthodoxies, the excluded have not always

to the early ravages of AIDS. Not only did this time leave

been able to fight their corner so convincingly. Amongst

precious little to joke about, it also forced gay men to

bears, the waist - a buff preoccupation - fails to conflate

confront the multi-layered issue of identity and mould-

automatically with a high level of physical capital, and

ed a variety of new looks that reflected a changed en-

loses its position as the necessary determinant, when

vironment. Like clones before them, bears resisted the

placed in relation to the shoulders and chest to form

equation of gay with effeminate. Unlike clones, initially

the prerequisite triangle of sexual capital. Some even

at least, bears also resisted the very notion of physical

seek to gain weight as, in the words of one reveller,

45

has brought to the gay community is the very public damage it wreaks on the mainstay of the gay identity, the body. When the epidemic began, ‘bulking’ become a necessity and for a great weight gain has taken the ers, however, have taken a different road and have sought to resist the disease and the perception of the disease through fat. In this way, the fat naked body - perhaps ironically, given recent discourse on the inverse relationship between weight and health - is thus presented as a physical testimony of health, and a very visible denial of a wasting syndrome. Corpulence can of course be used as a visual red herring to reassure others of a subject’s healthy status. Mark Ames 46


The Bears Have Come Out To Play

purport to portray. Similarly, much of the bear scene is

Again, the cultural dif-

one of performance with roles and fantasies being both

ferences between the

realized and enacted.

London scene and that across the Atlantic are

When referring to the variety of types within XXL, Mark

brought into sharp focus

is at pains to stress how this is a common misconception,

confirmed by Mark Ames, owner of XXL. In total contrast

Ames’s refers to the ‘fantasy’ of ‘man drag’. Clearly

as, in contrast to the seri-

how being ‘a really big guy’ is absolutely no guarantee

to most gay environments, youth is, if not a complete

there is no single masculinity and the malleable adjec-

ously ambitious muscle

of HIV-negative status, and in fact how some medica-

irrelevance, far less the guarantor of desirability and

tive ‘masculine’, offers a range of connotations. Facial

bears that take to Ameri-

tion now result in bodies becoming bigger. The issue

passport to unbridled hedonism. Most have entered

and body hair are, when taken together as a feature,

can catwalk, in Vauxhall

here is identity through the embodiment of the percep-

what is termed ‘mid-life’, as opposed to the increasingly

a significant component in the maintenance of what

absurdity and homage

tion of health.

resisted notion of ‘middle-age’, and many are over fifty.

could be termed blokeishness, the English equivalent of

(with its tongue strictly in

The sexualised older body referred to many bears is

the regular American blue collar guy, which is both the

its cheek) are the name of

The desire to strip and present one’s body is not just an

one that challenges the power of societal disapproval,

role model and source of desire for so many self-identi-

the game. Accompany-

expression of hedonism but acts also as a challenge.

one that labels transgressors as ‘mutton (un)dressed as

fied bears. Eric Rofes lucidly recalls the irony of standing

ing a frankly weird medley

Far from hiding what might be considered their imper-

lamb’. The ‘sexual’ is thereby added to the list of Bourd-

in a group of wealthy middle-aged professionals in a

of acts, the club’s bounc-

fections, bears seek to flaunt, and this act of self-flaunt-

ian capital, alongside more traditionally recognised

San Francisco bear bar dressed in an assemblage of

ers, adorned as hairy

ing becomes a direct aesthetic challenge to corporeal

versions that accumulate with age.

working class drag, and the same can be witnessed as

Tiller Girls with more than

half-naked judges and company directors gyrate to the

a passing resemblance

latest funky house.

to Stockard Channing on

normativity. The sense of embodied liberation inherent in the nakedness creates an opportunity for empower-

The scene of hundreds of bodies, undressed, unshaved

ment, and Darren, a Megawoof regular, admits that in

and seemingly unfettered by notions of restraint, cre-

the club, ‘I’m kind of confident, as I can have my love

ates an almost transubstantiated aura of testosterone

But what of this performance? It would be unfair in

vort on stage. Far from los-

handles hanging over my jeans but on balance...I’ll

that fuels the collective libidinal urge. No matter that,

reality to dismiss it as some kind of masquerade that

ing their bear credentials,

look back and think I enjoyed myself’. Malcolm, who

on closer inspection, these bodies are often decorated

merely sublimates class and gender issues. Despite the

these boys manage, by

frequents XXL and is close to 20 stone goes further, and

with jewellery, that fake tan has been applied, and

blokeishness on display, these are men that reject any

embracing camp, to re-

responds to those who look askance at his nakedness

beards clipped, that in other contexts they may be

notion of proposing themselves as straight-acting. There

tain the essential element

and by the direct challenge of “oh dear”, you seemed

suited – they form, like gay pornography, an approxima-

is no intention to pass as straight, and even though

of fun that constitutes the

to have mixed me up with someone who gives a shit

tion of an idealised mythical masculinity that has been

bears steer clear of the overt vanity of the buff and ad-

real bear spirit. Flagrantly

about your bigotry (sic)’.

consciously constructed to perform its own fantasy. As

hering to camp stereotypes, camp itself, so much a part

disregarding normative

bear writer Eric Rofes points out, ‘Porn stories focus upon

of the London scene, is never completely eschewed. As

gay body images and,

Although a disparate cacophony of naked body

truckers, gas station attendants, and hick farmers rather

can be seen in the Bear Beauty Contest, held in Area in

in so doing, reinforcing

shapes and sizes swing, gyrate and swirl to the music,

than computer programmers...and biotech librarians’,

the run-up to Christmas, bears too are quite capable

a form of resistance that

another common denominator is that of age. The ma-

while the porn actors bear no relation whatsoever in

of transcending tired notions of what ‘makes a man’,

allows bears to define

jority of these bodies belong to men over thirty-five, as

either comportment or body type to the men they

by simply allowing themselves a free rein to self-parody.

themselves.

47

one her wilder nights, ca-

48


Untitled September 2006 #5& #6

Vron Harris

Less Common More Sense 12 | The Subversive/Subculture Issue  

The University of the Arts London Students' Union's Award Winning, volunteer produced magazine

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