Our Underground Haven

eBook (PDF), 39 Pages
(1 Ratings)
Price: Free
a photographic insight into London's squat scene
Available in PDF Format

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  • By Christopher Kamper
    Jan 19, 2009
    "Community, boundlessness and the collective body: Rachael Johnson invites us to the London squat scene." After the foreword, Rachael’s book starts with a double spread showing the door of an abandoned house, but it is not completely forsaken as the legal warning posted on the door suggests. Somebody opens the door, first slowly, but then very friendly as he recognizes who is coming. This gesture serves extremely well as an analogy towards the reader: we are invited in. The book demonstrates its self-awareness here, although this stylistic device remains unused from this point onwards. After this, we are directly thrown into the scene, at least into its party outset. Slow exposure times and overview-shots depict an energetic crowd, while tightly framed shots of the DJs and their equipment help the imagination unfold. Since I am a synesthete myself, the following pictures perfectly fit my impression of sound: On page eleven, Rachael used a flash in combination with a rapid... More > panning of the camera to create a blurred impression of lights around the actual picture. I do not want to step too far into the realm of the speculative, but the similarities of my impression and the pictures are quite astonishing; almost to a phenomenologic level of being-in-that-place. The fast pace of the party pictures sequence receive several short breaks starting with page eleven; I believe Rachael has decided to forego further descriptive texts to let the reader be drawn in by the pictures itself. The book is not intended to be read on the level of a broad documentary, so I am going to scrutinize it on its own premises. Rachael writes in the foreword: “The series captures the juxtaposition between the individual body and the collective body, and its significance within London’s squat scene. The collective body that depicts the magnetism and effervescence, while the individual body that emphasises each body as unique. The friendships that have formed as a result of this youth culture unite individuals to form this collective body.” Stronger than in many other representations of community, an apparent sign of the collective body manifests itself at the heart of party-culture; especially in dance: Although the physical space is dramatically reduced, the own metaphorical space expands without feeling any signs of oppression. A feeling of immersion and boundlessness is weaved throughout the book; my reading of the term ‘collective body’ suggests that the book rightly succeeds in representing it. The aforementioned pace finally comes to an end when pictures of policemen enter the scene. The last double-page spread reveals a scenario that was not shown before: A policemen, apparently interrogating and arguing with two occupants of a squat while they are having lunch. I can sense a serious change of tone in this last sequence: there might be more on the line than just a place to party for some people in this community. Rachael did a fantastic job to leave this as the last impression the reader gets; not only to display the pressure and distress, but to emphasize how a collective body can form under such circumstances. I highly recommend taking a closer look at this book; as an outsider to the whole scene, the book has definitely given me some insight and understanding aside from any dull documentary!< Less
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Product Details

First Edition
Rachel Johnson c/o LSBU BA (HONS) Digital Photography
September 29, 2011
File Format
File Size
35.46 MB
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Formats for this Ebook

Required Software Any PDF Reader, Apple Preview
Supported Devices Windows PC/PocketPC, Mac OS, Linux OS, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch... (See More)
# of Devices Unlimited
Flowing Text / Pages Pages
Printable? Yes
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