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This Is The Exhibition Of The Summer

July 2019Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

“Spiral Tribe”, 1993. Photograph by Mr Derek Ridgers, courtesy of Saatchi Gallery London

Down past a petrol station, which glows neon in the dark, through a plier-cut mesh fence, there’s a PVC strip curtain spray painted with a huge yellow smiley face indicative of the acid house music that pumps and hums behind it. This is not in a field in Manchester in the early 1990s, but, weirdly, the Saatchi Gallery in summer 2019.

The Chelsea institution’s latest exhibition is called Sweet Harmony: Rave Today, and is an immersive retrospective all about the acid house rave scene that swept through the UK and Europe at the tail end of the 20th century in the wake of Ms Margaret Thatcher’s government, and features everything from a wall of pristinely preserved rave flyers from the era to a rotating upside-down car that hangs from the ceiling. Compiling work from photographers Mr Tom Hunter, Ms Vinca Petersen, Ms Chelsea Louise Berlin, Ms Seana Gavin and Mr Dave Swindells, who documented the unabated joy of the rave scene in Britain and beyond, Sweet Harmony is the first exhibition of its kind.

“Tribal Dance Joe Bloggs + Baseball Cap”, 1990. Photograph by Mr Dave Swindells, courtesy of Saatchi Gallery London.