Exist to Resist (Photograph: Matthew Smith/Youth Club Archive)
The Evolution Of Rave And Protest Shown Through 25 Years Of Photography
In the early 1990s, the UK Government introduced a bill that prohibited raves, protests and free parties after years of attempting to persecute those involved in this new social phenomenon.
The laws united people across the country and music served as a platform for disparate subcultures to come together and oppose this tyrannical disposition.
Now, 23 years since the Government moved to prohibit cultural freedom, Bristol-based photographer Matthew Smith has come forward to recount some of the tales from the inside.
His most recent book, Exist to Resist, documents the grassroots democratic activism at the centre of this nationwide cultural shift and how it became embedded within British society.
And, as the Government continues to chip away at our freedoms, Smith feels the need for counter cultures to resist tyranny is just as prevalent now as it was back then.
"The social contract that underpins democracy is being consistently eroded and destroyed," he said:
"We live in what is still effectively a feudal state administered by an institution which over the course of my lifetime has consistently shown that its moral integrity has been compromised."
Smith points to the recent Government decision to implement digital mass surveillance of everyone in Britain with the Snoopers Charter.
"We are already one of the most physically surveilled people on Earth," he explains, "with more CCTV cameras in London than in the entire USA".
And now people are being coerced into accepting that their freedoms should be further compromised in the need to maintain our own "safety" following a wealth of Government mistakes, Smith said.
"Political consultancies who manage our country have manufactured recession, austerity, terrorism and the consequential immigration crisis caused by the destabilisation of the Middle East."
But what's struck Smith over his 30+ years of raves and protests is how capable people are of coming together and solving problems themselves.
Independent charities, born out of the internal refugee situation in the 80s and 90s, have helped feed over 800,000 victims of war, along with providing temporary housing and humanitarian aid.
"Back in the day feeding just 5000 was meant to be some kind of miracle," Smith said.
"Photography has the power to show people how things were so that they can see how the future is evolving."
By Matthew Kirby, published on 27/02/2017