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“Raves and Riots”: A Phone Call with Vinca Petersen

A phone call with Vinca Petersen where we chat about her photography and her dynamic life on the road during the Second Summer of Love.

While the ecstatic, edensitic lawlessness of rave photography from the 90's provides an insight into the religious rapture of the mid-party-bliss, Vinca Petersen’s snapshots capture the era more soberly. Documenting the lifestyle surrounding the long, sweaty nights of freedom, Petersen’s images extend beyond just escapism and euphoria and captures something more revolutionary and anarchic, which was, in Petersen’s words, “the last moment of genuine freedom”.

Spending her youth travelling across Europe with the sound systems, Petersen’s photographs are an archive of the swirling, chaotic and carefree Nomadic lifestyle she led during those years, and of the outlawed lifestyles of those responsible for Britain and Europe’s emerging rave scene during the Second Summer of Love. Transcending the utopic vision of ravers everywhere, Petersen’s images exist in a sort of in-between place, a limbo, where sun-drenched landscapes and dreamlike parties exist alongside bloody protests and brutal demonstrations – there is a sense of abandon, a sense of a total suspension of reality within these images, presenting a stark new fantasy. A world of unity, of a mad moment in time, of a communal throb where by night bodies move as one to the music and there is no distance between them, where bodies integrate, abandoning themselves, tasting every touch and caress, but by day they are grounding themselves in a world where revolution is their everyday reality…

“We exist now and in the future. Welcome to our way of living…”

I was lucky enough to have a phone call with Vinca recently to discuss her newest exhibition, the merits of documenting a dying era, her hopes for the future of rave and protest, and much more. You can listen above, and check out more of Vinca’s work here. Special thanks to Joe Gray for designing the thumbnail.


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