Your Rock Against Racism memories sought for East Sussex exhibition

Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is wanting your memories of Rock Against Racism.
Rock Against RacismRock Against Racism
Rock Against Racism

RAR-RAP (Rock Against Racism Research ‘n’ Archive Project) and the De La Warr Pavilion are making the call-out as part of Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment 1976-82, an exhibition opening at the Pavilion in autumn 2021.

A spokesman said: “We are looking to gather personal stories that may not already have been told from all over the world and particularly from people who live locally to the Pavilion. These will become part of a living archive and will be included in forthcoming radio shows and may also be included within the exhibition.

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“Were you part of a RAR group? How and why did you get involved? Did you help organise events and/or play in a band? Which RAR events did you go to? What were they like? What is your strongest memory of that time?

“If you have a story to tell, please send it to us as a voice message. Try to keep your stories between three to five minutes long. Please mention your name at the beginning of your audio testimony if you can. However you don’t have to – your story is the key!

“Send them to [email protected] directly or via WeTransfer if the file is too big to send on email. If you would like to tell your story and need help in recording it, please email us on the address above and we will get in touch.”

Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment 1976-82 is the exhibition from Saturday, September 18-Sunday, January 9, featuring a new commission by artist Larry Achiampong created in response to the sounds, visuals and ethos of RAR, and contributions from Bass Culture.

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“Rock Against Racism (1976-82) was one of the most important British grassroots cultural movements of the 20th century. It harnessed the power of the imagination – thrilling music, vibrant design and witty, subversive polemic – along with a DIY ethos which expected everyone to do their own thing as well as being part of a huge collective effort. Hundreds of small local bands played RAR clubs and gigs, as well as big names like Aswad, Au Pairs, Buzzcocks, The Clash, Misty in Roots, The Ruts, The Specials, Gang of Four, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson Band and X-Ray Spex. The result was a movement which raised the consciousness of a generation.

“Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment 1976-82 will capture the excitement of the moment and the thirst for change, setting RAR’s activities within the social and political context of the time. It will showcase the punky RAR aesthetic through posters, photography, badges, stickers, leaflets, letters from young fans across the world, as well as striking graphics from the legendary RAR fanzine, Temporary Hoarding. T.H.’s articles and interviews range from abortion rights to anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe: a platform for discussing multiple forms of oppression. The exhibition will include documentation of the movement from photographers including Henry Grant, Neil Martinson, John Sturrock, Virginia Turbett and Val Wilmer, and material about associated campaigns including the Anti-Nazi League, Rock Against Sexism, Asian Youth and Gay Rights movements. Bass Culture will present filmed interviews from their archive, together with new interviews produced by South Coast Squared and commissioned by RAR-RAP. These include key musicians and activists, commenting on their experiences of the time, and the importance of RAR. Visitors are invited to record their own memories and draw parallels to collective movements today. A programme of learning, participation and live events will accompany the show.

“Larry Achiampong will present two newly commissioned works: a sound piece heard within the exhibition, featuring the voice of Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo speaking powerfully about colonialism and racial injustice, and a flag, What I Hear I Keep, to fly from the Pavilion’s flagpole. Both works form part of the artist’s on-going, multi-site project Relic Traveller, which addresses issues around migration, displacement and nationhood through sound, film, performance and objects. Combining material that includes lost testimonies, pop-culture and stories of fallen empire, Relic Traveller methodically traces an Afro-centric narrative for the future, built on the dismantling of colonialism.”

Larry said: “I’m very excited to be making new artworks that consider important histories which are often forgotten or erased. This is an appropriate moment to ponder the symbolic imperatives of Sound and Music, not just from a Diaspora-based perspective, but also, the rooted relationship with the African continent.”

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Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment 1976-82 is organised by RAR-RAP (Rock Against Racism – Research ‘n’ Archive Project) and De La Warr Pavilion. RAR-RAP participants include Andy Dark, Debbie Golt, Ruth Gregory, Wayne Minter, Kate Webb, Lucy Whitman and Jo Wreford.