While there were raves in the 5o’s and 60′s, they fell out of fashion and, in retrospect, were pretty tame affairs compared to the new waves of popular raves in the 80′s and 90′s, fuelled by electronic music and the acid house scene. SWEET HARMONY: RAVE | TODAY at the Saatchi Gallery celebrates the people, the music and the environment of these raves through art, photography, music and video at the Saatchi Gallery, including live raves in the Rave Room overseen by Project Zoltar, London’s leading ‘underground multi-platform collective’ (in the middle of a heat wave in London). As a child of the older generation, I missed out on the raves of the 1980′s and 1990′s, but here at Saatchi, that generation can return and relive their youthful experiences and the rest of us can be reminded what we missed.
Highlights include Conrad Shawcross and Mylo’s mesmerising upturned car from the era, swinging overhead, with music blasting out and lights flashing, reminiscent of those carefree times, Tom Hunter’s photographs – along with those of many other photographers, including Molly Macindoe, Anna-Lena Krause, Ewan Spencer, and Shauna Bloodworth -, posters and other materials from the era, Liam Young’s immersive videos, Vince Petersen’s fabric beds and bouncy castle, to encourage interaction – not that encouragement was needed -, Matthew Wilkinson’s celebration of the sound system culture and Cyril de Commarque’s installation from the recent Thames Festival.
And of course, there is music everywhere – you could spend many hours here immersing yourself in the soundtracks of the time. ‘In a way, as it happens with electronic music, both in the post-industrial landscape or at the dancefloor, we can all be the same. We are connected.’
And, above all, ravers were seeking a better and more harmonious life, not only at the raves themselves but by taking part in demonstrations against issues they felt were unjust. Rave was a way of life, a culture, not just music! Perhaps we should bring them back as we make sense of the topsy-turvy world in which we exist. At Saatchi, we can see what some of us missed.