11 September 2012 – 23 September 2012
Galerija Makina, Pula

The exhibition is part of “TU SMO” 3 (We Are Here 3) an international multimedia event organised by The Museum of Contemporary Art Istria.

The exhibition ‘A Riot Of Our Own’ looks at the Rock Against Racism (RAR) Movement of 1976 to1981, through 41 photographs by Syd Shelton. The exhibition was originally shown at CHELSEAspace London, in 2008. It was the idea of the artist Lara Ritosa-Roberts to show ‘A Riot of Our Own’ in Croatia and she secured Galerija Makina as the venue.

Syd was a RAR (London) committee member and key graphic designer of its associated material such as, the paper Temporary Hoarding. He photographed performers such as ‘The Clash’, Elvis Costello’, ‘Misty n Roots’ and ‘The Specials’, members of the audience at RAR gigs across England and carnivals as in the history making RAR Carnival 1 at Victoria Park, London in 1978 and demonstrations as in another defining moment the ‘Anti National Front Demonstration’, Lewisham, London in 1977. Syd also took contextual social and cultural images that informed the politics of the movement across England and Ireland.

Between 1976 and 1981 RAR confronted racist ideology, particularly that of the far-right organisation the National Front, in the streets, parks, town halls and pavilions across Britain. Syd’s photographs provide another aspect of that historical moment. Through this tangent, ‘A Riot of our Own’ revisits the energy of RAR, the creative entanglement of black and white musicians, designers, writers, actors, performers and supporters who produced effective counter-narratives to whiteness as superior and blackness as alienated. His photographs remind us that RAR was a particular treatise on belonging in Britain.

RAR did not have an official photographer. Syd has produced the largest collection of images on the movement. This unique repository of a pivotal period in Britain illustrates how difference was championed and helped to define Britain’s character. Syd says of his photographs of this period that:

‘Photography for me has always been an autobiographical tool, a sort of staccato visual diary. The pictures, which I made between 1976 and 1981, were largely uncommissioned and therefore free of commercial considerations. I also used my photography during that period as a graphic argument, enabling me to be a subjective witness of the period which could, hopefully, contribute to social change … I was surprised how many negatives are in the archive that document my involvement with RAR and its hinterland. High-resolution scanning and archival inkjet printing techniques have liberated these photographs from the studio filing cabinet.’

‘A Riot of Our Own’ is curated by Carol Tulloch. The curatorial narrative of the show has been inspired by the concept of ‘self-archiving’– an exploration of one’s own history through a re-acquaintance with, and re-assemblage of, the objects held in a personal archive. Syd’s archival photographs remind us of the social tempo in Britain during the life of Rock Against Racism and a defining moment for Syd Shelton.

Syd Shelton is a British photographer and graphic designer based in Hove, where he has his company ‘graphicsi’. He has worked in Europe, Australia and the United States. Syd co-edited, and was art director of, a series of photographic books 24 Hours in Los Angeles (1984), the award winning Day in the Life of London (1984) and Ireland: A Week in the Life of a Nation (1986). Currently his work can be seen in the exhibition ‘Words, Sound and Power: Reggae Changed My Life’ at The British Music Experience: Britain’s Museum of Popular Music, O2 Arena, London (24 July-22 October 2012). Additionally, Syd contributed to The Photographer’s Gallery major exhibition ‘The World in London’ which was displayed at three venues: Victoria Park; Park House, 453 – 497 Oxford Street; and The Wall, The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Carol Tulloch is Reader in Visual, Material and Diaspora Studies at the CCW Graduate School, and is a member of the Transnational Arts, Identity and Nation Research Centre (TrAIN), both at the University of the Arts, London. Carol is also the TrAIN/V&A Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

The illustrated publication ‘A Riot of Our Own’ accompanies the exhibition. Edited by Carol Tulloch with a foreword by Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP.

‘A Riot of Our Own’ at Galerija Makina is a collaborative project between TrAIN and Galerija Makina.

Visit Syd’s Website for more details.