White Room: Gavin WatsonSeptember 10–October 24, 2009
White Columns is pleased to present “Raving ‘89” a solo exhibition by the celebrated British photographer Gavin Watson. Watson’s seminal 1994 book “Skins” remains a defining document of late 1970s and early 1980s British working class youth culture. Shot when Watson was himself a teenager, and depicting his own family, friends and suburban milieu, “Skins” has since become a cult classic inspiring Shane Meadows acclaimed 2006 film ‘This Is England’ and more recently Chloe Sevigny’s clothing line for Opening Ceremony. The images in Watson’s latest book “Raving ‘89” (co-authored with his brother Neville) depict the subterranean rave and acid house culture that emerged across the UK in the late 1980s. Now twenty years old, the images are presented as a continuous slide show (self-consciously acknowledging Nan Goldin’s legendary ‘Ballard of Sexual Dependency’), and accompanied by a soundtrack of rave-era house classics mixed by Neville Watson, “Raving ‘89” is both celebratory and melancholic, and captures some of the earliest stirrings of a grass-roots social and cultural ‘movement’ whose legacy persists to this day. This period in British history – broadly defined by the demise of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘reign’ in 1990 – was, and remains, highly contentious, and has recently been considered by a number of artists including Mark Leckey and Jeremy Deller, who with Watson identified with both the socio-political nature and life changing potential of early ‘acid house’ culture.
Gavin Watson (b.1965) lives and work in the U.K. His photographs have been exhibited widely and published in three monographs: “Skins” (1994, U.S. edition 2001); “Skins & Punks” (2008); and “Raving ‘89” (2009.) For more information about Gavin Watson’s work go to his blog: http://gavinwatsonsphotography.blogspot.“Raving ‘89” is published by DJ History.com. For more information visit: www.djhistory.com. Copies of “Raving ‘89” will be available for purchase from the gallery. This is White Columns second collaboration with DJ History: In 2008 White Columns published Vince Aletti’s collected writings on disco – “The Disco Files” – which was subsequently published in an expanded edition by DJ History.