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by YOUTH CLUB category: Book
Exist to Resist is a social history book of born out of a love for UK's rave, sound system, and festival culture. It is a photographic celebration of community gathering and grass roots democratic activism in images made between 1989 and 1997.
Support the Kickstarter and get your copy here.
In the early 1990s, the UK Government finally decided to legislate against the popularity of raves, protest, free parties and festivals after over a decade of targeting that social phenomenon for persecution.
After over a decade and a half of Conservative government a great culture of resistance and opposition had arisen and become embedded within British society. Acid house and rave served as the musical soundtrack that united all of those disparate sub-cultural tribes in one mission; to gather, dance and celebrate together for free.
It is now 23 years since Government acted to prohibit and enclose that cultural freedom in law and it is time to tell that story from the inside. It is often said that history is written by the dominant forces in any particular situation, but with Kickstarter crowdfunding and digital social networking that is no longer the case.
As the 1994 legislation approached, an ordinary group of friends drawn from my West Country home and from my art college coalesced with a common creative goal and in the early 90's we all moved to Bristol, a party city fertile with the spirit of counterculture, art and music.
Collectively we decided that it was our social and political responsibility to oppose that legislation in any way possible, in order to stand up for and perpetuate a culture that we had known and loved. As we followed this path we inexorably intersected with history. Exist to Resist is a document of that process and of the community which we became part of. It is a before, during and after testament to the years that created our modern festival industry.
All the images in Exist To Resist were shot on film using a Nikkormat 35mm totally manual camera and a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex. Images are rare from this culture at this point in time. People with cameras were generally regarded with suspicion because of undercover infiltration by authority and the outsider nature of what was a uniquely democratic social phenomenon.
When I began to document the culture that I loved the digital camera revolution had not yet taken place. My intention was to bear witness to this culture and to provide a positive personal truth in order to counter mass media and political representation of the lowest kind. Skint and mostly on the dole I traveled the country during these times doing exactly that.
Every picture clearly tells a story but the book will also contain two initial essays together with accompanying short stories to set the images in context and relate some the experiences that occurred during their making which have distinct contemporary relevance. It will finish with a post script.
For quite a number of years these images have been freely shared on my Facebook page, which has a consistent audience of 5000. The aim of this has been to gather information, research, background knowledge, and the experience of others involved at the events depicted within the images. When this Kickstarter is launched I will delete those images and they will only be available to view in the pages of this book.
The action of time on these images is crucially important. In the years since the criminalisation and enclosure of this culture, it has become the UK's most successful creative industry and most sought after marketing platform during massive recession and austerity.
British summertime is now filled with legal, licensed festivals attended by hundreds of thousands of people, many of which have become treasured iconic events in our annual calendar, generating huge economic revenue and cultural capital. The vast increase in demand for and participation in festival culture, coupled with current developments in licensing and legislation makes now the right time to publish.
It is no coincidence that the dominant market leaders in the industry are now mostly owned by huge multinational corporations in a complete reversal of the initial festival model. We also live in a new era of big data and previously unimaginable levels of digital surveillance and intrusion into the lives of ordinary people. It was not always this way.
The book will be hard back, 224 pages, just over A4 in size beautifully gravure printed on cotton rich archival acid free parchment. This a treatment designed to make the lofi into hifi. A treatment that will pay homage to diy publishing in appearance while at the same time as elevating the subject matter and object out of the realms of a mere style bible into something more worthy.
"I first became aware of Matt’s unique photography during the time that the Criminal Justice Bill was being debated in Parliament in 1993, in my capacity as a music journalist concerned about the Bill’s repercussions for the dance music industry. Matt isn’t someone who occasionally touristed in the counter-culture — he has lived and breathed it for a lifetime. I hope that lots of people support this project." Carl Loben, Editor, DJ Magazine Jan 2017
YOUTH CLUB is a non profit organisation working to preserve, share and celebrate youth culture history through creative projects, exhibitions, collaborations and consultancy.