How Can The Ethos of Rave Challenge Ideas of the Arts Becoming Embeded in Capitalism

Harry Boulter

6053 words

46 minutes

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One of the delights of the rave scene at its loved-up height was the way it allowed mingling across class, race and sex preference lines (Reynolds, 2013, 501)

I felt liberated.

A shared feeling amongst the crowds of moving bodies in this sweaty pit of non stop motion, it was nothing but contagious. A room full of people dancing with an insatiable amount of energy. With a speaker pulsing raw tribal stomp sounds at 190 beats per mi nute, the heat from those carnal movements was enough to make a person faint. But the heat did not matter. We had created a world within a world, a way of escaping our anxiety o ver the ever moving, fast paced environment outside. This harmony I felt between people, I discovered, was what I craved. On the outside there was a feeling of omnipresent loneliness that existed and loomed w hereas inside this dilapidated Marks and Spencers in Putney Heath it seemed as though we had forged a glimpse of a distorted past. In the middle of this accelerating world, we had the power to stop time and truly live. Joined together for just a brief moment.

We now live in a time of isolation. Where we might have imagined a new world built upon ideas to form socialist reform, harbouring post capitalist, societal, and humanitarian ideals, we have only seen an increase in uncertainty in our lives. It seems commodification walks in every part of our lives. It is becoming impossible to escape. But is it?

Under the reign of Capitalism, we have seen an effect on all forms of artistic expression. Capitalism, primarily the neo-liberalist form of it up on humans' unconscious desires and to drive up consumption on the part of individuals to keep people trapped within a consumer cycle. Neo-liberalism has developed a whole industry to create products that incite an immense sense of self, thus establishing infinite desires. It reinforces our deeply held ideas and philosophies and proposes prod ucts as the road to enlightenment about the self (Century of the Self Part 3, 2020, 54:00) ask what that means for artistic expression?

Ironically, as we enter the later and more modern stages of Capitalism we discover that we can rely on anti capitalist products to satisfy needs of the emerging anti capitalist economy. In the book, Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher 2009 uses the film Wall E (to demonstrate this point, the film performs our anti Capitalism for us, allowing us to consume with impunity Have these ideas been translated over to the art world? Have we just become a society of consumers of anti capitalist Capitalism? Art should want to incite political change and aim to become a democratised place, something George Maciunas (1964) proposed with the Fluxus Manifesto fig 1 For artists to rely on the bureaucratic and individualistic nature of the arts, to challenge and resist is counter intuitive under the influence of Neo Liberal politics. In post modernity the art world has found that its own absurdity would become a commodity (G. 1994, 33 In actuality, to change the world would first require the harmonisation between people of all kinds to come together and take back the autonomy which is rightfully theirs.

The act of dance conveys a powerful message, the ability to express one's self. It can be performed individually or as part of a collective of shared philosophies. Historically, the act of dancing has bought people together over many centuries, and can be documented as far back as the Egyptians (2017). While dance still holds that core idea of comm union and solidarity, in the present it can convey a powerful message against the dominating nature of Capitalism and the control it has over the individual (Ott B Herman, B. 2003). But to explore this we first have to look at how late Capitalism informs our broader culture.

Figure 1. Fluxus Manifesto by George Maciunas made in 1963 was a critique of both the art world and bourgeoisie all corresponding around the word 'Flux'.

Accelerating Neo-Liberalism

Capitalism has no end point. For it to exist, it requires constant growth (G. 2019). Unfortunately, with only a finite number of resources and an endlessly growing amount of demands, it seems that overconsumption will only continue to accelerate and only stop once resources have depleted. This accelerating nature is the basis of how the present economy now works. Karl Marx established this mode of Capitalism in his book D as Kapital 18 67, 1996) Volume 1 and proposed the following equation:




Marx’s equation for Capitalism simplifies, condenses and shows how Capitalism works, a long with it s destructive expansion to wards making profit. It is this expansion that has become so intrinsically intertwined with society that it has become almost impossible to keep up with the pace of constant growth and the rapid commodification of all areas of life. With these newly established economies (these new walks of life) consumers are distracted from making actual decisions simply because of the sheer volume of choice. By making minuscule changes to products, we find ourselves getting stuck in a repetitive nature of consumption, with the looming feeling of not wanting to fall behind in society.

Jonathan Crary talks about how tech companies like Apple exploit this idea:

It is important to acknowledge the attractive incitements to align oneself with a continually evolving sequence based on promises of enhance functionality, even if any substantive benefits are always deferred... Submission to these arrangements is near irresistible because of the portent of social and economic failure the fear of falling behind, of being outdated. (Crary 2014, 46)

Understandably this is a rigid cycle in which we, the consumer, have become submerged. This idea of acceleration and becoming trapped in a cyclical nature is the same for many businesses. As the free market seeks expansion, it creates a limitless flow of new potentialit ies to commodify, as a constant demand exists. Effectively this creates the rapid growth of an economy, but to what end?

In Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity Harmut Rosa (2016) illustrates the idea of modernisation, which he characterises as a process of social acceleration, with the image of a hamster wheel a device that makes the user run faster and faster to keep up with the pace only to remain fixed in the same place. If the user does not keep up with the pace of the spinning wheel, they risk uncontrollable destabilization, or falling out of the wheel.

The world we have created relies on this constant pressure of a society based on speed, speed in all forms of life. Humans cannot live a life of liberty when they drown in the sea of vast consumption, always feeling dissatisfied (Schwartz, 2007). To maintain the growth of Capitalism, people must keep up with the velocity of the 'wheel.' It is this distraction of having to keep your place in society which keeps us stuck in the constant loop. As Susan Brown puts it, under the hours of employment, we sell our self determination, our wills and our freedom (Brown n.d) As we give up our liberties to conjoin ourselves with society, our lives have become more aligned with the neo-liberal narrative. A narrative that exists for the betterment of the individual not necessarily society. Humanity cannot break free from these chains of Capitalism because it cannot risk the pressure from society, nor economy, to fall behind in its fast paced nature. Within the current situation, these things seem like an impossible task.

At a time when young people have no other alternatives other than Capitalism, there is nothing new on offer only ideologies rehashed from the past (Fisher, 2009) Our developed cynicism has become the method of trying to cope with knowing this truth. Mark Fisher called this idea Reflexive Impotence (Fisher, 2009, 21) A theory that proposes people know things are bad, but more than that, they know that they cannot do anything about it. It is this truth that becomes incredibly hard to digest.

Our lives travel so fast in what feels so many different directions, whereas we only really travel round in circles. This current state reflects an on going concern about what it means for society. If we are trapped in a loop of consumption, selling ourselves, and far too busy to take the steps away from Capitalism, what does this mean for our cultural evolution and its association with the arts?

As culture becomes completely commodified it tends to become the star commodity of spectacular society (Debord, 1994, 107)

The Haunted Arts

The art world has had an expansive relationship with industry through recent history. Let’s first begin in the early 20th century with Dadaism (an art movement of the European Avant Garde that rejected the modern capitalist society) and in particular Marcel Duchamp's the ‘ (See fig 2 Using what he named 'readymades' would result in what is known as 'anti-art' (Tate n.d. Readymade). Essentially, this could be seen as a way to critique the elitist corners of the arts and the industry that it stands for. Artists had become unbound by mediums that were known and could begin to ask questions regarding the futures of art. However removing the authoritarian chains meant it was open to exploitation and would end up creating concrete visions of the individual and their importance making most works commodified (Beech, D. 2016). Years later postmodernism occurred almost in awe of dadaism and was a reaction against Modernism. It challenged the notion that there are universal certainties or truths (Tate, n.d. Postmodernism). Postmodernism wanted to take the 'insider' position to exploit itself in a capitalist society and talk to the consumers enabling it to communicate on a base level, as something we know on a day to day basis (Hutcheon, 2002).

During the 1960s, Pop Art taught people that we could enjoy ideas of individualism, money and consumption. Andy Warhol was a prolific Pop Artist, seemingly at the beginnings of Postmodernism. Warhol created an obsessive relationship with consumerism, he celebrated everyday objects and manifested them into something of 'value' It is this obsession which led to his famous Factory, a form of mass reproduction within the arts (Tate n.d. The Twentieth Century: Andy Warhol). This established Warhol as an extremely powerful brand. This is evident when we look at some of the controversy that was caused in one of Warhols exhibitions regarding his Brillo boxes (see fig. 3). These works of art were made to be reproduced on a mass scale, and by doing so made it extremely difficult to authenticate. In particular we clearly see the 'brand' Warhol represents when looking at a case written in the book ‘B is for Bauhaus’. The author, Deyan Sudjic, relates the story of Pontus Hulten, a very influential curator of the twentieth century. In 1968 Andy Warhol was exhibiting his Brillo Boxes around the world. When showing the boxes around Europe, Hulten and Warhol both said it would be too expensive to ship them from America to Europe. With authorisation from Warhol, Hulten preceded to make 500 copies of the real Brillo boxes, but when the exhibition began to move Hulten made further boxes without Warhols approval. It was these very examples that ended up on the art market after Hultens death. Deyan Sudjic would go on to question the level of authenticity when he says:

Were they authentic fakes of an authentic fake of an authentic fake, or were they fakes of an authentic fake of an authentic fake? (Sudjic, 2014)

While Sudjic begins to question the authenticity of the item, it is important to recognise that the market had already deemed the art authentic. Before the scandal was released it would have been a part of the 'brand' of Warhol. It wasn’t until these boxes were under the inspection of Warhol's board of authentification that they became discredited as fake Warhols, which encapsulates the power of an artists name. If it had been a real Brillo box, and his own, would it have even mattered? Warhol had cemented himself in the world of consumerism and that differentiation no longer mattered. He had established that art in a capitalist market can come in the form of a mere signature. It had become about the individual.

The issue for exploitation of the capitalist market became even more plain to see alongside the birth of Neo-Liberalism. As George Philip LeBourdais reflected on the post-modernist arts he says ‘As one of the most desirable and symbolic commodities, art slid easily into bed with business’. (LeBourdais, 2015) That being said it would be remiss to detract from it being a much more open time to elevate female artists. 1990s Britain saw a new group of new artists, The Young British Artists. The YBA were known for shocking the consumer alongside their business like attitude towards the arts. It seemed to fit in with the politics of the time. The ‘can do’ attitude and willingness to show and market ones work to its best advantage. It’s no surprise that it was Charles Saachi who became the patron of these artists in 1990 and held the first YBA show at his Saachi gallery in 1992, coining their collective name. It’s fitting that someone who had made their fortune in the advertising world would pursue, as Ben Lewis wrote ‘The YBAs to accelerate the trajectory of artistic style towards production line and brand identity.’ (Lewis, 2011)

Damien Hirst was one of the many artists involved with the YBAs to achieve great 'success' (Low, 2020). Hirst would become an artist who would certainly push the boundaries of Andy Warhol's beginnings. No longer did art merely exist within the capitalist market, nor had it become just a reflection of the market. What Damien Hirst created was art which embodied the market. Together they had become so tangled up with one another that systematically it was becoming impossible to break them apart. An example can be seen when looking at his work ‘For the Love of God’ see (fig. 4). Clearly, this diamond encrusted platinum skull had become the epitomisation of commodity. The skull itself was said to have cost up to £14 million to make, ensuring the skull would always hold a form of value on the market based just on its raw materials alone. Things get more interesting when we find out that Hirst had an asking price of £50 million pound for the work, which he apparently sold for cash, leaving no paper trail. This resulted in some burning questions.

David Lee, editor of the art magazine The Jackdraw said in 2007 (Evening Standard, 2007) “Everyone in the art world knows Hirst hasn’t sold the skull. It’s clearly just an elaborate ruse to drum up publicity and rewrite the book value of all his other work.” It is here we see the same cemented ideas of Warhol but stretched further. The power of the signature. The art was argued to be a cynical ploy, merely to add 'success' and value to his name, the people who had invested in him and his other work.

Grafton Tanner is a writer and experimental musician from Athens. In his book Babbling Corpse he talks about this relationship that Postmodernism has with Capitalism when he says:

Postmodernism calls attention to the reality that in the age of commodified culture, art has to be produced within the capitalist market; therefore, culture and industry always intertwine. (Tanner, 2016)

Fundamentally, this is one of the main contributing factors to why the art world no longer holds challenge or innovation against Capitalism. By being a part of Capitalism, to act as a form of ridicule and reflection, it ends up becoming what it wishes to fight against. Cultural and stylistic innovation is seemingly stagnant within the later stages of Capitalism, perhaps even since the late 1980s (Fisher, 2014). Postmodernity seemingly has become a symptom of Neo-Liberalism, a cyclical self reflection of the past. Unbeknown to the general public it is nostalgia which has been, as Jameson puts it, 'imprisoned' and commodified for our own consumption (Jameson, 2011). If we were to look at popular culture during postmodernity, we would find it has seemingly become slightly altered versions of the past. Examples like Pulp Fiction (1994), a film which clearly references 50s-60s movies, or Nirvana when they wreck the set of the 60s-style variety show they are playing at in the video for In Bloom (1992; see fig. 5) show us this obsession of recycling the past even in popular culture. Postmodernity is now a culture of complete cynicism where political movements are appropriated to keep hierarchy and social activism as a mere recreational activity (Willette, J. 2012). It could be suggested that we now live in a time which can only offer altern ate versions of the past, lacking change for alternate futures.

With all this being said, I do not think this is the end of art. The art world needs to discover a new medium, a new language. Its aim should be to be inclusive of all parts of society, not just the high society. It is these ideas of co-operation and re-appropriation that are becoming increasingly important in a time of cultural stagnation. We need to create a space for people to truly reflect, not for Capitalism to do their reflection for them.

Figure 2: Fountain by Marcel Duchamp.

Figure 3: Brillo Boxes by Andy Warhol.

Figure 4: For The Love of God by Damien Hirst.

Figure 5: In Bloom Music Video by Nirvana.

A Movement

Dance. It is a democratised performance where a temporary temporal community can be born. It can challenge notions of public spaces allowing us to inhabit them against their intended premise. The idea of dance can be threatening, the ability to take back your liberation and discover what it is like to be unbound by the constant and cyclical pressures of modern society. Dance has had a history of being used as a resistive measure against forms of control. It can aim to bring people together with shared philosophies and is a language which is becoming all the more interesting as it continues to develop. Through the course of history dancing has been a way to convey a message, sometimes without the knowledge of a message being present. It is the autonomous nature of dance which makes it such a powerful tool. When looking through historical context we see the importance that dance has had on society, and its potential to achieve lost futures.

In a conversation with Ana Cunha Carlos Neto, a Human Kinesthetics Lecturer at University of Lisbon, analyses the movement performed by humans and proposes that ‘The body is the reflection of all the political tensions we suffer from today’. Indeed, if we look back through history we can see how dance has been a reflection of political tensions or has even been used as a protest against them. An example of this can be seen in Chile. On September 11th 1973 a military coup in Chile brought the dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. During the tyrannical regime Pinochet would apply curfews, torture and the forceful kidnapping of Chileans. Pinochet would proceed to expropriate the Cueca dance (see fig. five) from the Working Class, becoming a symbol of an authoritarian oppression. In 1983 several women whose husbands and sons were kidnapped, would reappropriate the dance thus forming the La Cueca Sola. They had decided to perform the Cueca in public without their loved ones with only a photo around their neck. The dance then became a form of language and protest, allowing the question of the missing loved ones to be asked through the unison of the women (Marilú Mallet, 2003). It is this solidarity between women which would then spark the movement of the arpilleristas. The democratised art movement and its use of ‘low art’ which signifies the supremacy of historical discourse that omits marginal groups (Garieri, R. 2019).

Rave, History, Promises and Failures.

This feeling of solidarity is what I felt in that abandoned and dilapidated Marks and Spencers in Putney Heath. The impromptu squat rave achieved something that I felt was overwhelming, in fact it was this feeling that instigated this exploration. Although the rave movement died in the 1990s it is important to note the world it wanted to create; an equal place where hierarchies were crushed, the patriarchy fading away and love for whoever the person was standing next to you (Lawerence, 2016). The message rave had somehow still echoes in the hidden underground world today. Though it will never return to its former glory, nor should it ever try too, it is important to see the world rave had intended and how it has become such an important role on reacting to western society, especially during the later stages of Capitalism.

Rave was a place without judgement, allowing people to feel liberated from the oppressive society that existed outside of the walls of the underground clubs. A place to play out your desires and share the experience with others. The British journalist Matthew Collin further analysed this underground scene in the book Altered State (Collin, 1998, 17), he talks about how ‘The explosion of energy therefore was enormous; the bonding too. The rhetoric of unity and togetherness which echoed down through club cultures to come was forged in these clubs, under pressure from an oppressive world.’ Similarly, the very nature the women of Chile embodied is very much reflected in Rave; the use of togetherness and unity to construct a system which would restrict the oppressive powers that undermine the people. This new cultural phenomenon would quickly transport itself over to the UK and would show people that they had the ability to deconstruct the societal hierarchy that existed and could pose an alternative way of thinking to Capitalism until Rave was poised to ability to be exploited by capitalists.

Rave's importance only continued to grow by assimilating into what is defined as the ‘second summer of love’. Rave was not just a chemically induced hedonism, it became a much more spiritual pilgrimage for people to embark on. Alongside rave there was seemingly the beginnings of the internet right around the corner, there was the potential for a future of a new world, a world that could be connected by both physical and metaphysical properties. Where the art world initially failed at conjoining with this tech enhanced future (Farago, J. 2014), rave culture embodied it. The music wanted to let go of the restrictions of the past and take a step towards the unknown (Brewster, B. and Broughton, F. 2014). It was these steps into the unknown that made it so sacred, similar to that of the religious experience (Lammin, 2014). Rave culture developed its own version of communion embedded from its beginnings in Detroit (Cycles of the Mental Machines, 2008). Ecstasy was the common substance shared by all, and the hierarchical structure that had previously existed had become deconstructed and flattened. Neither DJ nor Dancer had any more importance than the other, but by working together they could create something harmonious for their own pleasure. What was left were groups of people taking part in a performance which opposed the social normality of life. It achieved something which would seem utopian in such an age of division. It set a precedent against the Neo-Liberal Western world that as Brewster and Broughton put it ‘Dancing is political, stupid!’ (Brewster, B. and Broughton, F. 2014).

In the UK, rave culture would also question the very notion of how humans could regard social spaces. In the current capitalist society, space has become a highly valued commodity. Instantly this provides the hierarchical structure that Capitalism is so highly dependent on. By owning land, the owner has authority of anyone who enters that space thus being able to restrict and control behaviours and diminish forms of liberty from others. Perhaps it is because of this enticement that humans wish to buy property, to experience this form of liberty, to be free from restriction that had previously existed over them. What Rave would realise is the appropriation of public space, taking it back from the clutches of Neo-Liberalism and repurposing it as a temporary escape from the capitalist structure. It would deconstruct ideas about industrial derelict areas and the capabilities they may hold (thekinolibrary, 2016). Foucault proposed such spaces oriented around being temporary as Heterotopias. While similar to a Utopia, a Heterotopia can happen at different points of our lives which they intend to mirror/distort the reality that exists outside of it (Foucault, M. 1984). In the culture, a Rave was portrayed as something impromptu, merely lost in time until authorities would shut it down. With this comes great agency to anyone who wishes to appropriate the forgotten fringes of society and to create a portal to inhabit the uninhabitable defying logic of the domesticated space (Lyotard, J. 1991). As previously mentioned, the premise of a rave is to invert and distort the social hierarchal structure that exists outside of this temporal zone.

What could be created in these spaces, is a form of true liberation, a way to distance yourself from the cyclical and accelerating nature of Capitalism. By allowing these spaces to exist they could allow people to question what they know, giving people the opportunity to see an alternative to the current system that has submerged them. Artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans have tried to replicate ideas of the heterotopia, especially in regard to Rave (See fig. 6). Tillmans created a video which quite simply looks at the hypnotic movements of dust that exists underneath the lights at a rave, it shows how the raver's body sets the dust in motion. Sleek Magazine goes onto say “In this work, utopia is something that can be happened upon within subculture; places where potential community can form and freedom can be momentarily glimpsed at.’ (Ellis N. 2017). Interestingly Tillmans tried to capture the energy that is transposed within heterotopias and tried to present something utopian to an audience. However, I find that just to recreate or document it perhaps goes against the very idea of what makes a heterotopia so special. You have to live and breathe the moment. To feel it and see it for yourself. To believe it, otherwise it runs the risk becoming our regular known world. A rave exists as a temporary experience that you must be involved in to remove yourself from the cyclical world of Capitalism. Existing in the gallery is nothing more of an appropriation of the imagery and aesthetic of Rave.

The rave culture would soon find itself in a predicament even by the 90s. Because of its ability to remove hierarchal power from those at the ‘top’, this would leave the rave to be open to exploitation from the capitalist system. It meant money was to be made from this new underground wave and we, the consumers, were happy to partake. Jeremy Taylor was a famous promoter from the UK and he promoted events for Sunrise. In the documentary The Summer Of Rave 1989 (2013, 26:20) he regarded himself as one of ‘Thatcher's Children’. In the past Taylor had been a promoter for parties for the young and wealthy and had now moved over to the rave scene. This would find the rave scene subdued by its own hypocrisy of wanting to be against the system that it found itself indulging in. However this would be the beginnings of the rave scene being reappropriated by the likes of Capitalism. Along with this newly heightened commercialism in Rave, the UK government also possessed powers to relocate the rave scene into more of what was part of the Neo-Liberal vision. In 1994 a law was passed that banned large events featuring music "characterised by the emission of a suc cession of repetitive beats” (, 2020). Thus encouraging a transition from the illegal rave to the more prevalent materialistic/branded club culture that we all know so well today.

Along this same trajectory, commercialism seeped further into the rave scene. DJs were once considered equals to everyone who wished to participate in the rave scene (Ott & Herman, 2003, 262). Now in the present day the DJ is a superstar, and it has become a very lucrative career for some. This change can be seen visually too. The DJ is now placed on a pedestal, quite literally, and they 'perform' directly in front of the worshipping crowd. What was once something that was derived from unity was turning itself into the commodity spectacle. The once invaded heterotopias were turning into domesticated and official spaces and the on going united performance of ravers and DJ were being replaced by a hierarchical structure similar that to the rest of society. While Rave initially promised utopian ideas, it would not be without its flaws and would run the risk of being commercialised by Capitalism. While only being temporary, Rave never foresaw to make permanent change. Perhaps it is possible to see that Rave had become just a temporary form of individualist hedonism that had succumb to the capitalist regime (Hoare, 2018) becoming nothing more than something which had become lost in time for corporations to rehash, remodel and sell back to us. It shows us the world we desire, sells it to us for a price and restricts how long it can last, losing the charm that made it so special. Unfortunately Rave was almost doomed to fall to Capitalism. As new generations of people flock to it, be it organisers or dancers, the motivations that had started with rave could not be replicated, eventually fleeting off the bare surface of its substance until all that is left is the shell that exists. The music artist V/Vm created the album 'the death of rave' (Du matin au soir, 2015) which could be seen to encapsulate these ideas. All that is left now is a faded memory of the people that started it all.

While Capitalism has aimed to commodify all walks of our lives we actually live in a current period of time where our own bodies are an untapped 'potential'. It is this idea that makes our physical nature so valuable. That is why it came as no surprise that Capitalism seeks to keep us as sedentary as possible. As moving beings we hold more agency, we are more likely to find others like us. The capitalist system combats this and tries to feed the world with false premises of connection systematically built within the technological advancements of recent years. It aims to remove the little liberation with we have left through the use of control. The documentary The Social Dilemma (2020) highlights some of these key issues surrounding the nature of social media and its ability to make us dependent on the system of Capitalism, making us feel as we can only function this way.

This relationship we have with consumerism has resulted in making us a more sedentary society, blind and unable to see the real world. Fisher categorises this new generation of people with something known as ‘Depressive Hedonia’ the inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure. As Fisher says ‘There is a sense that something is missing’ (Fisher, 2009). This is why the motivations of Rave have become so important today. It is the longing for the alternative, for something different. The capitalist system only offers one way of life and our profiteering governments try to ensure that it stays like that (Shadijanova, 2020). It is now that the demand and longing for unity becomes shockingly apparent, Capitalism has bred us to make us less human and more like machines repeating the same cycles of life to benefit others. While Rave was not necessarily the answer to the problems, its very core shows us that there are other worlds out there, and perhaps single handedly this truth could provide insight on how to make a change.

Then, from time to time, like a diseased eyeball in which disturbing flashes of light are perceived or like those baroque sunbursts in which rays from another world suddenly break into this one, we are reminded that Utopia exists and that other systems, ot her spaces, are still possible |Jameson, 2009, 612)

Figure 6: Lights by Wolfgang Tillmans


What Rave did was forge the space to create that new future. Distancing yourself from the world both physically and mentally, it is here that there is the ability to step out of the cyclical world of Capitalism and the 'responsibilities' that have been placed above your head. At a rave you can embrace the spirit of unity, solidarity and love. It is here that one can truly detach themselves and it is here where answers could be found and alternatives for our world could be made. It is a reminder that a new world is still possible, and can be achieved through a collective movement.

The year of 2020 has been a destructive one. During this time we have seen the very constriction of liberation and community, no longer are we able to communicate with each other face to face and we are left with the constant looming fear of harming others. But through destruction there can be construction. Even though society has become constricted, it has shown people the power of the collective and how coming together we can defeat the pandemic. The crisis has also offered time and space for personal reflection, finally giving people the short break they needed from the cyclical loop of the hamster wheel. This time away has allowed people to think differently about not only their own personal existence, how they live their lives and where they live it, but also the wider society that they want to live within. The author Catherine Malabou posed the idea of Destructive Plasticity, in Malabou’s words it is “the power to form identity through destruction thus making possible the emergence of a psyche that has vacated itself, its past, and its 'precedents'. In this sense, such plasticity has the power o f creation ex-nihilo, since it begins with the annihilation of an initial identity” (Malabou, 2012). With the possible deconstruction of our identities that we had forged under the continuous cycle of Capitalism, our ways of life have the potential to shi ft from our recent past. With the lack of the social, it is possible for it to be the end of the individual and the birth of a new psyche, one focused on unity.

It is here where we have the potential to create something new. By learning from the ethos of Rave we have the opportunity to create a new democratised community, where hierarchical structures are removed, and create the space to give everyone a voice. Through our experiences of the last year, people can be inspired to become liberated, knowing tha t there is strength in the collective.

It is here where the arts could reignite. To form heterotopias that are disenfranchised from relying on higher society and show people that alternatives are possible. The arts could harness this feeling of change while also using the spirit of the rave scene. Using the ability to take space and distribute it to all and to incentivise people to take steps away from Capitalism. To be focused less on the individual artist and more on the freedom of expression for all. These are the very ideas that both DJs and dancers/performers of the rave scene shared. It is the ability to all work together to create something more than the intended counterparts. To keep dancing, creating and expressing together. To prove to each other that solidarity and equality has the abi lity to be a powerful tool when formed as a collective spirit. To finally find the liberating alternative we have been searching for.

It is a time for a new possibility and a new era.

Through an unforeseen turn of events and via an irony that is no longer that of history, it is from the death of the social that socialism will emerge, as it is from the death of God that religions emerge (Baudrillard, 1994, 28.)


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List of Figures

Figure One: MOMA (N.d.) Fluxus Manifesto by George Maciunas [Image] Available at:

Figure Two: Steemit (2018) Theironfelix The Pervert’s Guide to M-C-M’ [Image] Available at:

Figure Three: MOMA (N.d.) Marcel Duchamp: The Readymade as Reproduction [Image] Available at:

Figure Four: DAZED (2017) Brillo Boxes by Andy Warhol [Image] Available at:

Figure Five: Damien Hirst (2012) For the Love of God by Damien Hirst [Image] Available at:

Figure Six: Youtube (2009) Nirvana - In Bloom Official Video [Screenshot] Available at:

Figure Seven: My Art Guides (N.D.) Lights by Wolfgang Tillmans [Image] available at: