Are there any authentic, localised sub-cultures left? It’s a question I’ve devoted a lot of time to this week and I’m still fumbling to provide any sort of coherent conclusion. There’s a lot of conflicting evidence, mostly on the internet. And that’s where the question first stemmed from, in this interview with Alex Kopps in November’s issue of Juxtapoz. It’s one of the best interviews I have read in an age – despite being somewhat late to the party by almost four months. Amongst other things, he discusses the repercussions of the internet on a new generation, specifically relating to sub-cultures.
Kopps is from a generation where organic sub-cultures still existed. And maybe they still do, but it’s much harder to pinpoint due to the democratising effect that tumblr and Wikipedia has. “Most of the things I am interested in are really complicated to figure out. That’s what made pre-Internet so interesting,” says Kopps. “You’d meet a goth girl in a neighbouring town, and sometimes the wires would get crossed, and she said she was goth, but she was actually punk rock and didn’t know it. Maybe her sister gave her some apes, and she thought it was one thing, but it was actually something else, and so you get these hybrid subcultures.”
Kopps makes an interesting point and for a while I fully bought into it. It’s all fucked, I said. But that’s lazy, in the sense that it’s easier to dismiss something as a whole than explore its nuances. The “it’s all fucked” attitude was somewhat tempered by this new zine by photographer Ewen Spencer. Shot exclusively in Marseille, it explores the youth culture of the Mediteranian city. It is a culturally unique city and many identify with their region – a mixture of French, Spanish and Basque – much more closely than simply their nationality. I think that aspect has been captured by Spencer; it doesn’t look stereotypically French, nor Spanish or Italian for that matter. That said, they’re just pictures on the internet – a medium by which authenticity is near impossible to gauge.
This question and post will probably develop into a fuller project over time, but for now, go check out Ewen’s work.