SWEET HARMONY: RAVE | TODAY is an immersive retrospective exhibition devoted to presenting a revolutionary survey of rave culture through the voices and lenses of those who experienced it.
The exhibition, opening 12 July 2019, will recapture the new world that emerged from the acid house scene and narrates the ascendancy of rave culture with the youth of today. Saatchi Gallery's Director Philly Adams alongside co-curator Kobi Prempeh have assembled a comprehensive panel of visionaries including; Sheryl Garratt, Agnes Bliah, Juan Rincon (Voltage and SCI-Arc), Jorge Nieto (Creative Director of Village Underground) and Craig Richards, all of whom have made significant contributions in the execution of the exhibition. Their combined reflections have culminated in a unique and timely production staged over two main floors of the Gallery.
Sweet Harmony will feature multimedia room installations and audio-visual works by some of the rave movements' most prolific and authentic visual commentators. The acid house revolution will be charted through typographic accounts, photo stories, live music events, talks and panel discussions by the movements' architects and influencers. By reliving the revolution through the voices and lenses of those who experienced it, Sweet Harmony will portray the new world that emerged from the club scene of the 80s and 90s.
Headlining the experience are the artists and observers who captured and archived the atmosphere surrounding one of the biggest countercultural movements of the twentieth century, including photographers Tom Hunter, Vinca Petersen, Ted Polhemus, Dave Swindells and Mattko. Visitors of Sweet Harmony are invited to step into the glory days of rave culture and immerse themselves in the visually stimulating recollections, accompanied by Spotify curated playlists by music personalities related to the sub-genres of Detroit Techno, Acid House, Happy Hardcore, UK Garage, and Grime.
Saatchi Gallery will be hosting an exciting programme of live events in Gallery 10 alongside the main exhibition; bringing together an array of commissioned artworks and sound installation pieces from electronic musicians and visual artists including Lost Souls of Saturn, Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), Weirdcore and Conrad Shawcross.
Sweet Harmony will run from 12 July until 14 September 2019.
Duke of York's HQ
Standard entry to the exhibition is £10, available on Eventbrite (here)
About the Artists
Dominic from Luton (born in Luton)
Rave would not have happened were it not for the boredom of suburbia and rural Britain. Dominic From Luton's visual language draws on his relationship with his hometown Luton. His photographs invite audiences to consider how contemporary conditions such as history, identity, geography, space, place and culture, impact our daily lives.
James Alec Hardy (born in Colchester)
Immersing audiences with his video installation art, James Alec Hardy traces the history and development of perceptions in contemporary technologies. He explores the way colour intrinsically behaves, questioning ideas of visual perception and our relationship to digital technologies. He has previously exhibited at Kristin Kjellegjerde, London; ArtMoorHouse, London; FOLD Gallery, London; Vanity Projects; New York, amongst others. He currently lives and works in London.
Tom Hunter (born in London)
In the wake of the introduction of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act in 1994, artist Tom Hunter set off from Hackney with a group of friends on a bus journey that was to take them to festivals and gatherings in Continental Europe. Hunter documented this odyssey in what became known as Le Crowbar, sharing with Sweet Harmony audiences the experiences of the free party traveller community.
Vinca Petersen (born in Britain)
Vinca Petersen is a photographer, installation, multimedia and performance artist engaging in the area of social practice. Her works document the expanded portrait of the generation's collective identity and emerge from a social and political engagement with underrepresented communities. Petersen's photography portrays close-up encounters of the 90s rave club-scene with an unflinching female gaze, capturing the unseen stories of the acid house scene at its peak in 1989 in raw 'being-in-the-moment' form. Through the vision of Petersen's own journey, audiences are immersed in the party scene through the lens of a female raver. Her photo series archiving the techno-fuelled raves have been released internationally in No System (1999) with legendary publisher Gerhard Steidl.
Ted Polhemus (born in New Jersey, United States)
With his photography taken of ravers, Ted Polhemus explores and celebrates the extraordinary ways popular culture opens a wider into a broader understanding of society. Polhemus works as a marketing consultant, exhibition advisor and coordinator for special events including the 'Streetstyle' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and 'Style Surfing' at the Karyn Lovegrove Gallery (Melbourne). His works have been exhibited at The Photographers Gallery, London.
Derek Ridgers (born in Chiswick)
Renowned pop culture photographer Derek Ridgers has spent over four decades capturing the explosion of subcultures from the 1970s to the present. Whilst he is best known for capturing the rise of early skinheads and Punk and the seismic scenes that existed in dark underground subcultures, acid house also caught Ridgers' critical gaze and will feature as part of the exhibition.
Conrad Shawcross (born in London) and Mylo (born in Scotland)
Conrad Shawcross will present an elevated overturned vehicle, with wheels spinning, as his own riff on the revellers who would squash into cars to drive around motorways, seeking out telling laser beams and lights that promised the revelry within.
Shawcross' sculptural work encourages visitors to explore forms beyond their physical boundaries. Shawcross is the youngest living member of the Royal Academy and a previous Artist in Residence at the Science Museum between 2009 and 2011. In recent years he has exhibited at London's Hayward Gallery, Tate Britain, the Musee d'art Contemporain in Lyon, ARTMIA in Beijing and has been commissioned for a number of public art projects.
Myles MacInnes (Mylo) is a leading light within the Scottish pantheon of DJs. Famed for his 2004 debut album, Destroy Rock & Roll, Mylo has remixed for artists such as Amy Winehouse, Moby and The Killers. Mylo's composed piece will be combined with Shawcross' elevated overturned vehicle on a collaborative immersive installation for the exhibition.
Mattko (Matthew Smith)
The 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Act criminalized free parties and in accordance with its pivotal effect on rave culture is given prominent billing in Sweet Harmony. West Country photographic artist Mattko (Matthew Smith) documented the before, during and after of that process in his acclaimed book Exist to Resist, which tracks the history of rave activism, eco-protest and grass roots opposition from 1989 to 1997. With Sunnyside his sound system partners in rave crime he travelled the country making diary documentary work of personal truth to counter mass media demonization. His reportage depicts the raves they threw and the demonstrations they took part in as part of their daily lifestyle. More than ever a working contemporary artist Matt's work now tracks 30 years of the evolution of British rave culture from outsider phenomenon to massive creative industry.
Ewen Spencer (born in Newcastle upon Tyne)
Ewen Spencer is a filmmaker and photographer chronicling youth cultures and subcultures around the world. Spencer's photography draws a correlation between music genres and its influence on the style and sociology of the current generation - in turn raising questions concerning style and music when a multicultural, working class youth pre-dated social media and the internet. He has collaborated with notable musicians including The White Stripes, and has worked for Channel 4, Nike, and Adidas.
Dave Swindells (born near Bath, based in London)
Dave Swindells documented a wide variety of subcultures and club scenes from warehouse parties to Leigh Bowery's Taboo before the explosion of acid house and rave began in the late 1980s. Swindells wrote about the clubs each week as Nightlife Editor at Time Out and also photographed the events for i-D, The Observer and The Face. His era-defining images set the scene for the spirit of the time, focusing on the ravers themselves and immersing visitors in the clubs, disused factories, bucolic rural locations and festivals as rave expanded in the 1990s.
Chelsea Louise Berlin (born in London)
Artist Chelsea Louise Berlin draws on her vast collection of ephemera from the early 1980s onwards to celebrate the lo-fi visual culture intrinsically linked to the UK club scene. With the archives tracing the history of club culture, her array of visual artefacts references her artworks. She takes the crucial parts of rave's aesthetics into stunningly creative bodies of work to recall the acid house movement and its spread across the globe.
Seana Gavin (based in London)
Seana Gavin's photographs document her life as part of Spiral Tribe, the sound system collective that influenced club culture for a decade onwards since its formation in 1990. Gavin was heavily involved in the free party movement from 1993 to 2003, spending long periods of time in convoys journeying with the collective. Her selection of photographs captures her unique perspective of life on the move and provide an alternative look on society. Gavin has been profiled in Dazed, Wonderland, AnOther Magazine, Twin, i-D Magazine, and Super/collider.
Celebrating fifteen years as London's leading underground guerrilla multi-platform collective, Project Zoltar return as collaborators within Sweet Harmony's Rave Room, creating an installation that will house live DJ sets. One of the founding collaborators alongside Kieron Livingstone, Dan Macmillan describes Zoltar as the "bastard child of acid house and punk rock, a Molotov cocktail of art, film, visual and clothing that imbues social commentary through our creations."
Carsten Nicolai (born in Berlin)
Carsten Nicolai is an artist and musician known for his production work as Alva Noto and is part of a generational movement that works intensively in between music, art and science. Diverse musical projects include collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ryoji Ikeda (cyclo), Blixa Bargeld or Mika Vainio. Nicolai toured extensively as Alva Noto through Europe, Asia, South America and the US. Nicolai will be exclusively providing visuals and beats from his recent UNIEQAV tour.
Lost Souls Of Saturn
Lost Souls of Saturn is a multidisciplinary project from Seth Troxler (electronic music DJ and producer) and Phil Moffa (DJ, producer and sound installation artist), combining music, imagery, and storytelling into an inextricably linked whole. 'Transmission' is a collaboration between the duo and Aaron Kulik (visuals), Marc Ippon de Romda (light Installation), ATO Designs (production design) and Andrew Lochhead (concept development). The interactive and immersive installation represents not only a significant creative output by the artists involved, but serves as a contemporary example of electronic music and rave's ongoing and boundary pushing dialogue with the visual arts. Transmission premiered during Art Basel in June 2019, before making its UK debut at Sweet Harmony.
Jeremy Deller (born in London)
Jeremy Deller is a conceptual, video and installation artist working collaboratively to create works that instigate social interventions. Through an involvement with other people in the creative process, the Turner prize-winning artist deals with strong political aspects and acknowledges the power of collaboration. Deller's works invite active participation, and present freedom of expression as a social vector to initiate dialogue between cultures, people, part, present, and what the future could be.
Minnie Griffith and Max Mcgarvie (based in Berlin)
Griffith and Mcgarvie grew up with Spiral Tribe and the Mutoid Waste Company, attending their first festivals during their formative years and developing a lifelong creative passion from their experiences at the heart of the rave movement. The two young DIY artists make electronic music, vivid graphics, and dynamic installations that are participatory and immersive. Just as raves occupied and transformed abandoned spaces, Max and Minnie invite audiences to collectively experience the essence and spirit of today's raves, alongside consumerist mirage that raves subverted through collective experience.
Weirdcore (based in London)
Creating a commissioned piece for Sweet Harmony is Weirdcore; an experimental design and animation creator pushing the boundaries of consciousness and visual interpretation. He has collaborated with some of the most exciting modern artists and directors such as Aphex Twin, Charlie XCX, Skrillex, and Mos Def. Most recently, Weirdcore has created the CG world for Tame Impala's "Cause I'm a Man" and is currently working alongside M.I.A on her new album visuals.
Adrian Fisk (born in Devon)
Adrian Fisk has documented youth counter-culture against the 1990s socio-political background, exploring themes of globalisation, urbanism and social activism. Fisk's works have been featured in National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vogue, i-D Magazine, and The Economist and exhibited internationally. His current work explores the theme of the 'passage of the soul, during a journey of healing, through the use of psychedelic plant medicine'.
His short film installation commissioned by the Saatchi Gallery, 'Burning Extinction' (2019) captures the energy and intensity of the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Oxford Circus London to the 1996 soundtrack 'Babylon is Burning' by Zion Train; a seminal track of the environmental movement in the 1990s.
Cleo Campert (based in Amsterdam)
Cleo Campert has been a recorder of the infamous RoXY's parties; capturing friends as well as famous artists and DJs from all around the world to showcase the 90s venue's historical impact on the rave scene. Her photographs archive the private after-parties, taken at urban, underground spaces that occupied the acid house scene.
Colin Nightingale and Stephen Dobbie
Creating Sweet Harmony's experiential room "Getting to the Rave" are Stephen Dobbie and Colin Nightingale, who work on projects that involve immerse storytelling and challenge conventional forms of interacting with art through transformative ways. They most recently collaborated with Saatchi Gallery to create Beyond the Road, a multi-sensory world merging the worlds of visual arts, music and film.
Liam Young (born in Australia)
Liam Young uses speculative design, film and the visualisation of imaginary cities to open up discussions surrounding urban existence, and the roles of architecture and entertainment. His work explores the increasingly blurred boundaries among film, fiction, design and storytelling with the aim to imagining the future of the city. Young's body of films use new technologies of image making, including drones and laser scanners, to narrate the urban implications that these systems give rise to.
Cyril de Commarque (born in France)
Artist Cyril de Commarque designs unique and interactive soundscape installations and architectural projects to reveal the importance of taking action as a collective for social change. Most recently, the artist created 'Fluxland', an interactive that saw the conversion of a former freight boat along the Thames into the platform hosting discussions surrounding art, philosophy and science.
His polyhedron installation piece 'My Eden Is A Lie' (2018) is a recurrent shape made of neon, metal and recycled plastic and symbolises a state of melancholia in response to what Cyril states as 'our lost quest for a better world'.
Aida Bruyère (born in Mali)
Aida Bruyère creates visual works that are inspired by mainstream media and the symbolic codes of popular culture. Bruyère has taken from her own practice of the popular dancing cultures Booty Shake and Dancehall, uncovering an exclusively female 'dancehall battle' from which she draws her 'Special Gyal' project; an inventory of movements and postures that some women have appropriated so as to seek their empowerment against the tide of sexist and violent lyrics of the accompanying music.
Anna-Lena Krause (based in Berlin)
With her photo-series 'The Aftermaths', Anna-Lena Krause explores the ways sociological and cultural phenomena has shaped today's youth. With a focus on identity, and the connections between people, Krause's works question ideas of human diversity and similarities. She has had numerous group exhibitions, including the Voices Off in Arles (2016) and the European Months of Photography in Berlin (2016).
Matthew Wilkinson (born in England)
Matthew is an interdisciplinary artist that works to encounter, unravel and expose the hierarchical structures that govern our lives. Striving to provide a new lens on established situations through any means necessary. His work has been shown in London, Vienna and Los Angeles.
Molly Macindoe (born in Qatar)
Since the late 1990s, Molly Macindoe has been meticulously capturing the underground rave scene from an insider's perspective. Shooting a world so removed from the throes of mainstream culture, Molly has created a body of work as authentic as the subculture she follows. Once described as an 'unashamed champion of individuality', she has provided unprecedented visual insight into an empowered world free of boundaries. Her ground-breaking book Out of Order documents her journey through ten years of the Free Party movement and is currently on its second expanded edition. Sweet Harmony's selection includes images from the book but also reveals her latest work, showing how the scene has since evolved, survived and thrived up until the present day, in the changing conditions of the 21st Century Britain and spread beyond Europe and to the Middle East.
Mustafa Hulusi (born in London)
Mustafa Hulusi creates visually arresting artworks that are designed to be open-ended, depicting imagery that are universal in their narrative. Hulusi's visual graphic 'Expander' is the lead visual for Sweet Harmony and will be used as part of the flyposter campaign. It will also be featured along the hallways, corridors and stairwells of Saatchi Gallery during the exhibition. Most recently, Hulusi has exhibited his solo shows at Patrick Painter, Los Angeles (2009) and The PAGE Gallery, Seoul (2015).
Immo Klink (born in Germany)
Immo Klink creates images across the genres of art, commercial, editorial and fashion photography. Taking documentary approaches into fashion as well as introducing commercial aesthetics into documentary, art or campaigning is a constant in his visual language. Klink examines political and social matters of our time. He has worked as an aide in German politics and engages as a political activist in the UK. After graduating with a Master of the Laws he briefly joined Wolfgang Tillmans' studio in London. Immo has photographed and directed political campaigns. He has worked with Reclaim the Streets, The Space Hijackers, Climate Camp, Occupy and Extinction Rebellion.
Shaun Bloodworth (born in Sheffield)
Beloved music photographer Shaun Bloodworth spent years capturing the British underground dance scene, and has played a key role in documenting the evolution of Rinse FM. He had taken iconic portraits of artists including Flying Lotus, Skream, Benga, Hudson Mohawke, and Jackmaster. His photographs have been featured in the National Portrait Gallery's collections.
Toby Mott (born in London)
Like many enduring passions, Toby Mott's relationship with music started when he was a teenager. Mott's career as an artist, designer and collector, stretches from co-founding East London art group the Grey Organisation in the early 1980s to creating the cover artwork for De La Soul's 1989 breakthrough album 3 Feet High And Rising. The Mott Collection his expansive personal collection of subculture ephemera has recently led to curating exhibits and publishing several books. The Mott Collection has been exhibited widely including New York, London and Los Angeles.