In today’s modern society with photography technology forever progressing forward, there are a whole host of interesting concepts and projects being released every week. But it’s only once in a blue moon, that a project comes along that I consider to be really special. One week previous, I was browsing Facebook, looking for content to post to the ZF website and a friend of mine popped up and said; “Check this out, i’m sure this is something that’ll be good on your blog”. The link was to a Kickstarter project by UK photographer, Matthew Smith.
His Exist to Resist project is a social history book born out of a love for UK’s rave, sound system, and festival culture. It is a photographic celebration of community gathering and grass roots democratic activism in images made between 1989 and 1997. This is something that immediately struck a relatable chord with myself. Some of my first documentary work was capturing my local hometown boys set up generators and speakers in the middle of no where, playing loud and fast rave music until the early morning hours.
These personal projects sparked a love for rave photographers work such as Gavin Watson (Book: Raving ’89) and Molly Macindoe (Book: Out of Order). I can say now that Matthew Smith’s photography is no exception, I find all of his documentary imagery to be interesting, entertaining and insightful. Shot on a combination of Black & White & Colour 35mm film, using a Nikkormat manual camera and a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex. He captures the true essence of the UK free party scene in a gritty style that reflects the photographer’s surroundings and time period. Acid house and rave served as the musical soundtrack that united all of those disparate sub-cultural tribes in one mission; to gather, dance and celebrate together for free.
Exist to Resist has been sponsored by the Youth Club, who are the non profit organisation making this book a reality. They are committed to handling publishing, production, print, distribution and fulfilment in delivering this unique culturally important body of work. In the past Youth Club have curated events and exhibitions, as well as releasing a book ‘The Subculture Diary‘. Following successful press attention and support from online publications such as Mixmag and Vice, the Exist to Resist campaign, I’m happy to say has reached its £12,000 goal on Kickstarter. If you feel like donating towards this incredible venture, becoming an important part in the development in the book, then you can still donate money here. Some of my favourite frames of Matthew’s work can be seen below.