Nathan Jones writes about the rave-inspired-art exhibition E-Vapor-8, showing at the Site Gallery in Sheffield until August 17th, picking up on its themes of nostalgia-for-something-you-never-lived through and the spectral persistence in popular memory of cultural peaks long since passed.
"It features a series of haunted works opening
onto the “death of rave” -- and what that death means, when it happened,
and if it is still happening, are the most interesting questions
provoked by a visit.
notion of cultural 'Afterlife' enters the fray as surely and
convincingly as a sweaty-metallic-render 3D blade drifting though green
wireframe. Afterlife is a zeitgeist topic – Transmediale’s Afterglow theme explored an afterward of an already exploded digital scene; Mark Fisher’s term ‘Hauntology’ connected Derridian theory to underground music/artists like Al Qadiri and Maria Minerva; and the recent New Death exhibition at FACT featured works such as Jon Rafman’s installation, depicting an indecent internet-accelerated-libido as a kind of end-of-the-world-is-now scenario....
"[Curator Francesca] Gavin's
insistance that the exhibition ‘examines the utopian ideas surrounding
rave before its failure’, seems to ignore what the artists in the show
might consider the actual moment of rave's failure.... it would be nice to have a chance to review the impact of a novel like Irvine Welsh's Maribou Stalk Nightmares on this generation, or reflect on how current novelists such as Tao Lin use prose style to echo the afterlife of re-illusioned rave and drug culture.
"The best works in E-Vapour-8
exist as echoes a UK club culture with more ambiguous relations to
capitalism and politics than the radical and resistant Acid House rave. The
void left by the hedonistic lifestyle is a simulacrum in a work like
Faramawy's, for the void left in our lives by the death of the hope of
capitalism, and our continued afterlife within it - like a club we're
forced to keep revisiting even though it's too expensive the DJs are
shit and people keep getting shot."