Photography When The Kids Were United, Gavin Watson in Milan
Photographystreet photography

When The Kids Were United, Gavin Watson in Milan

Giorgia Massari
gavin watson |

A title that encapsulates the spirit of solidarity and rebellion is that of photographer Gavin Watson‘s new exhibition at Spazio Maiocchi in Milan. When The Kids Were United is a tribute to the Sham 69 anthem that reads If the Kids Are United / they will never be divided, a symbol of unity and defiance in a turbulent era. The context of the exhibition – organized by Slam Jam and Umbro – is immediately outlined. England, London to be precise, difficult years – those at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s – and a proliferation of subcultures. Skinheads, punks and ravers are Watson’s favorite subjects, starting with his brother Neville and his group of friends, always placed in marginal and degraded contexts. The motive behind these shots does not exist, or rather, there is no dietrology or very specific message that Gavin wanted to convey. They are simply shots of real life, captured in moments of friendship and in a condition that he himself experienced on his skin. Today – several decades later – his shots become an important record of a problematic, but still charged with creativity, period that proliferated hand in hand with poverty. All captured by his intimate gaze.

All the photographs are contained in the book released a few years ago Oh! What Fun We Had, which offers a different, undoubtedly intimate and positive look at a subculture viewed unfavorably. One merit – unintentional really – of Gavin Watson is that he has shrugged off the skinhead attribute of neo-Nazis, fueled instead by the mainstream media. As Watson himself stated in an interview for Creative Review, this rhetoric attributed to skinheads «goes against the narrative so hard. Being a skinhead’s not about race, it’s about a working-classness, a comradery, and that is universal. That’s why, whenever there’s a strong working-class culture – regardless of religion – you’ll find people listening to ska music and you’ll find people dressed as skinheads.»

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Un post condiviso da Gavin Watson (@_gavin_watson)

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gavin watson |
Fotografie dal libro Gavin Watson: Oh! What Fun We Had

Courtesy Gavin Watson

Photographystreet photography
Written by Giorgia Massari
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