A new Antwerp-based exhibit examines Europe's club culture in the '80s and '90s. Above is Mark Leckey's 1999 film "Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore," which offers a glimpse into UK's underground club scene from the '70s through the '90s.



Celebrate Raves and The Youth That Birthed Them with New Antwerp Exhibit

Europe’s next big rave isn’t at Berghain or in some unknown, subterranean warehouse—no, this time it’s going down in an art museum. Antwerp’s Museum of Modern Art, M Hka, is premiering an exhibition called “Energy Flash” that seeks to take on the rave as a social, political movement, a thing with rules all its own—they cite anarchist writer Hakim Bey in calling them “temporary autonomous zones“—ripe for analysis, if not opportunistic MDMA use.

On display will be various rave “artifacts” from the ‘80s and ‘90s, along with artwork that takes on similar issues of “‘autonomy,’ ‘civil liberty,’ ‘technology,’ and ‘creativity.'” The exhibition’s curators theorize the rave as a space outside the typical social order, spontaneously generated and spontaneously disbanded, one that embodies “both dystopian and utopian impulses.” M Hka even suggests that raves manages to escape (or at least, “transgress”) race and class distinctions.

A still from ‘Sign of the Times,’ a book that documented the parties and cult shop of the same name that defined London club culture in the ’80s and ’90s.

Dance music and partying has long provided a bacchanalian escape—an alternative world seemingly free from the anxieties of daily life and an excuse to revel in a bit of (occasionally) oh-so-necessary self-indulgence. Rave culture is “treat yo self,” come to life, with the added maxim that doing so shouldn’t impinge on others doing the same. It’s both a free-for-all with community spirit and a debauched subculture all the same.

What does it mean, though, when raves moves into a museum, the ivory tower, the academy? Rave culture, of course, is worth analyzing in the same way any other social movement is; however, does doing so reduce it, over-intellectualize it, or erase its radical history?

The exhibition will run from June 17th to September 25th, and will feature three parties with a partnering club, Ampere. So, once you’re done browsing relics from the good ole’ days, you can head over to the club and attempt to relive them.

Stay tuned to Milk for more reasons to rave. 

Image via i-D.

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