Friday, February 26, 2010


Thoughts on the presentation of rebellion in the artwork of (Post-)Rave records.

The picture has to be seen in front of the historical background of the introduction of the Criminal Justice Act which criminalised free techno festivals in Great Britain in 1994.
It is subdivided into two parts alongside an abyss. The left side is drawn in dark colors: a cold blue in various shades and mostly black. In contrast to this the horizon is drawn in red whose intensity declines to the middle of the picture. In the background there is the silhouette of a city. You can see over-dimensional, smoking chimneys of industrial factories. In front of them are fundamentally smaller residential buildings. Firstoff at the abyss there is already a huge line of riot police. And more of them are jumping out of transport vehicles and run to the abyss. One police officer is talking through a megaphone, another one is raising his truncheon in a threatening way.

The right part of the abyss is drawn in a different coloring: bright, shining, forceful colors dominate. The sky is blue, yellow and white, the sun seems to rise at this moment. This part is bright with daylight while it is night-time at the other side. In the background there is a green meadow with a party happening on it. There are two giant speakers with a crowd of people in front of them. Some people are loosely standing in front of the crowd, most of the people seem to dance. Their faces are abandoned from the left part of the picture and the danger; nobody seems to take notice that the police which is marching up. Between the people there are also vans, one of them is an old VW-model.

Prominently in the foreground of the picture there is a huge figure which attracts the attention of the viewer. It´s a man, aged somewhere in his middle or late 20s, who holds a machete in his left hand. The sun is rising slowly behind his head. The shine is silhouetting him against the horizon and gives him the luminescent aura of a nimbus. He is threatening the police with an attempt to cut the rope of the bridge that connects both sides of the abyss, the only connection. His gesture communicates: He´s a rebel and embodies the male outlaw. He has long, curly, brown hair and is wearing a simple, blue T-Shirt, cut trousers and clumsy boots. His middle finger is pointing in the direction of the other side of the abyss: “Fuck the police.” His body language is deprecating but his gesture is threatening. He is looking for a verbal confrontation and is protecting the dancing crowd behind his back.
The rebel impersonates elements of the classical hero who defends the innocent (and defenceless) people against the dark machinations of the ultimate evil. In this case the peaceful party community has to be protected from the police. The crowd isn´t defending itself, but needs the rebel as some sort of watchdog and bouncer.

The intention of the party community is pretty clear: one wants to party – but the police are disrupting this. Here one seems to find an exit-strategy to escape society and its constraints: hedonistic consumption. The negative attributes of capitalist collectivisation are seen as factories (individual deprivation caused by work; pollution of the environment) and police (repression) are seen exclusively externally, while the individual is seen as autonomous from it on the green meadow outside the city.
Where do the sound systems come from, who is constructing cars and how are motors operated? Posing all those questions would disturb the idyll. Because some answers would be that speakers are manufactured in China, that cars have to be refueled with petrol from the Middle East and that ecstacy is synthesised in complex chemical procedures. This would show that the idea of autarky (as independent production) is a chimera. The rebel particularly wants to forget, especially through his clothes, that he has something to do with capitalist society. Autonomy is suggested as an outside position. The tattered clothes are supposed to represent resistance which produces with all these contradictions an all the more pathetic impression. The paradox that one doesn´t realise anything different than bourgeois values is getting ignored.

With this picture The Prodigy are taking a stand in the conflict of ravers versus the police during those days. At the same time this statement is used to market a rebellious attitude. The picture is part of the artwork of a record – which is of course a commodity . The teenage (and male) consumer ought to identify himself with the presented rebellion. With the help of the artwork a certain image of The Prodigy is established: They should be seen as anti-stars, who define themselves through refusal and opposition.
Courtesy datacide: read it all on their website here
Interesting stuff!