Revolt and Resistance: introduction

  • Westwood wears the controversial Destroy T-shirt


2016 will surely be remembered as the year of a collective shift in consciousness; a realisation that our cosy, permissive worlds were just that. The tidal wave of events over the last 12 months has felt relentless and the assault of new developments week after week has challenged us to become more informed, more engaged and less apathetic.

The first part of the year saw the loss of 2 of the most significant musical icons of the 21st century and the world seemed to spin off kilter in response. We mourned their loss and inhaled their music on repeat as if to commit it to memory. In hindsight, it was almost as if these 2 events prophesied the start of what would become the everyman’s ‘annus horriblus’.

Things seemed to accelerate as the year went on. We struggled to understand the never-ending conflict in the middle-east but saw and felt the very real consequence of the plight of its refugees as their children were washed up on our beaches across Europe, like a lethal dose of karma. In Turkey, we watched an attempted military coup that turned on its head the rights of its people. Here in the UK, by the time we were being courted to vote and Brexit was at the forefront of the media eye, we were awake. Everyday conversations were littered with political chat.

But it was when the high profile shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in the US in July exploded across our screens that things started to get really uncomfortable, to put it mildly.This was a call to arms, like Eric Garner, like Rodney King and many, many others before. The Black Lives Matter movement in the US and subsequently the UK illustrated a rage that was being forced to explode once again.

People were angry and militant but also trying to make sense of a world in chaos. There was a feeling that a quick succession of life changing political, social and economic events were happening to us and it was no longer acceptable to be either passive or a bystander. It was essential to have an opinion.

After seeing the frustration and resentment in the Black Lives Matters marches and the Anti Brexit marches this summer, Paper Journal started to think about the late 60s, 70s and 80s and the ‘Golden Era’ of protest. In this period, it seemed that people believed they could genuinely make a difference by living and breathing the ideals of a society they wanted to live in; The Civil Rights Movement, The 1968 riots in France, The Anti-Vietnam marches, The Black Panthers movement, Rock against Racism and The Anti Poll tax marches; these were just the high profile movements.

Attending The Anarchist Book Fair in London recently we were struck by the sheer number of zines and flyers from this era, also the level of passion and dedication poured into these publications that were essentially addressing domestic and local issues that we are still struggling with today. It was interesting to note just how intertwined the creative arts are with the ideology and language of protest, as if the ricochet of such important world events spurs unparalleled levels of creativity – think Emory Douglas’ Black Panther posters, Marvin Gaye’s album What’s Going On? Jon and Yokos Peace protest, Vivienne Westwood ‘Destroy’ T shirt.

It felt like the perfect time to explore some of the movements of the past and to look at how creatives are responding to the current climate.

In this issue Nina Manandhar looks at flyers and printed matter from the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, highlighting lesser known political groups from the 70s and 80s. We invited Syd Shelton and Vincent Chapters to showcase their photographs and discuss documenting protests as a participator and artist. Josephine Platt interviews the current wave of New Fashion Designers (shot by photographer Sarah Louise Stedeford) who have created collections inspired by political themes that are personal to them. James Anderson interviews the visionary Walter Van Beirondonck (shot by Marc Hibbert) about his increasingly politicised collections.


Written by Shirley Amartey / Published 8 November 2016