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This is a major new exhibition to celebrate Rock Against Racism (RAR), organised by RAR-RAP and De La Warr Pavilion. Featuring a new commission by artist Larry Achiampong created in response to the sounds, visuals and ethos of RAR, and contributions from Bass Culture.
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.
“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.”
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.
The exhibition is supported by
Larry Achiampong is a 2018 Jarman Award nominated artist and a 2019 Paul Hamlyn Award recipient (for Visual Arts) and has worked with major institutions both in the UK and internationally including Tate, the Venice Biennale, Somerset House and Transport for London. Relic Traveller (2017–) is his most ambitious project to date – a multi-disciplinary multi-site work that builds on themes of lost testimony, fallen empire and displacement. The project is currently formed of two phases comprised of original scores, four short films, installations, audio-visual projects and flags that have been hoisted atop Somerset House, Whitechapel Gallery and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, and presented within the Singapore Biennale. His most recent audio work, Sanko-time, (2020) can be heard on the Emirates Air Line cable car as part of The Line, London’s first dedicated art walk. What I Hear I Keep can be seen on a series of posters that accompany Sanko-time on site.
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RAR-RAP was set up to catalogue the unique archives of Rock Against Racism, and to develop an analysis which acknowledges the vibrant multi-tone nation that Rock Against Racism was embedded in at the time.
RAR-RAP utilises collaborative exhibition making as a research tool to reflect on a collective memory and narrative, appropriate to what RAR was: an example of participatory, organic organisation. This form of horizontal governance has contemporary resonance in movements of today and with young people, many of whom feel disempowered and marginalised, with no part to play in shaping society. Using a timeline (drawn up by Wayne Minter) as a map through its archives, RAR-RAP has explored “what we did and how we did it – how we communicated in a pre-digital age – what life was like around us and who the other campaigns that we collaborated with were.”
The exhibition Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment 1976-82 draws on several archives, including:
1. Archive of the Central RAR office, including over 1,000 original letters; internal papers documenting the organisational structure of RAR; hundreds of leaflets and papers produced autonomously by the RAR movement. Courtesy of Kate Webb.
2. Archive of the RAR graphics studio, documenting the production of Temporary Hoarding and including original artworks, photographs and cuttings, and an extensive poster collection. Courtesy of Ruth Gregory.
3. Archive of Rock Against Sexism, and archive of fascist and anti-fascist propaganda and action 1976-1982. Courtesy of Lucy Whitman.
The archives are promised to the British Library after cataloguing with any duplicate material split between the People’s History Museum Manchester and the Bishopsgate Institute Library.
Bass Culture is an academic research project exploring the impact of Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture. Covering the period from the 1960s to the present day, with an initial focus on London and a particular interest in the years 1976-81, the research explores the profound ways in which the island’s music remade popular music in Britain – and was fundamental in the emergence of multiculture in the British city and the redefinition of the post-colonial nation. A key outcome of the project is the 2017 Grime Report, which led to the elimination of form 696, a risk assessment form for music events that many grime artists said was a racist way to prevent them from performing.
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South Coast Squared aims to collaborate, share and inform across communities and creative industries alike. The mission is to engage with multiple audiences, representing and supporting creative practice as well as cultural enterprise, providing global culture on England’s south coast.
An arts centre within a modernist building by the sea, the De La Warr Pavilion harnesses its prosocial, internationalist origins to stimulate exhibitions, performances and learning, and to mobilise current and future generations to take action and re-imagine the world. Over the coming months, DLWP will work in coalition with those in our neighbourhood and beyond to engage with urgent matters concerning race, migration and care. Responding to the impact that COVID-19 has had on communities and individuals, we will provide space for reflection, healing, debate and action.
- By Rail
Direct trains go from London Victoria, Brighton and Ashford to Bexhill.
There are also trains from London Charing Cross, changing at St. Leonards Warrior Square and from London Bridge or Charing Cross going to Battle. Battle is only a short taxi journey away (15 mins approx).
Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for up-to-date train travel information.
Town Taxis: 01424 211 511
Parkhurst Taxis: 01424 733 456
- By Car
If driving from the London area:
Take the M25, then A21 to Hastings. Turn off at John‘s Cross and follow the signs to Bexhill.
Take the A22 to Eastbourne, go across the Bishop roundabout to the A271 and follow the signs to Bexhill and the seafront. The De La Warr Pavilion is on the Marina.
From the Brighton area:
Follow the A27 out of Brighton until you arrive in Bexhill On Sea.
Please be aware the Rother District car park outside the De La Warr Pavilion operates paid parking until 8pm. After this time parking is free. There is also lmiited free car parking along the seafront.
Within the limits of this Grade One listed building, the De La Warr Pavilion strives to be fully accessible with a range of facilities to support your visit.
Assistance Dogs are permitted into the building.
Please contact the Box Office on 01424 229 111 to arrange a visit.
Facilities for disabled visitors
- Ramped access at the front of the building
- A low counter at the Box Office and Information Desk
- Disabled toilets on two floors
- A lift to all floors
- Accessible galleries on both floors
- An accessible Café
- Spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium for seated events
- Ramped access in the auditorium for events during the day
- Ramped access into the Studio
- Two travel wheelchairs are available for use at the De La Warr Pavilion. To reserve, please call our box office and information desk on (01424) 229111 or ask a member of staff on arrival. The chairs are provided on a first come, first served basis and are intended for use inside the Pavilion. Please contact us for more information.
Facilities for blind or visually-impaired
- Large print season brochures
Facilities for the hard-of-hearing
- An T-Switch induction loop in some areas of the auditorium (please indicate when booking as this facility is not available on the balcony)
- British Sign Language interpretation tours of the building and exhibitions are available on request.