derek ridgers’ latest photobook is an homage to 80s style tribes
The era defining photographer is at it again.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of punks, it was the age of post-punks. It was the spring of ska, it was the winter of the miners' strike. We had everything before us (reggae, dub, electronica, synthpop, blitz kids, new romantics), we had nothing absolutely bugger all before us (Stock, Aitken, and Waterman, Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Wedding, Kylie and Jason on Neighbours). The 80s began with the end of punk and London changed by an explosion of creativity, driven from necessity, boredom and anger. A million kids and a million style tribes and Derek Ridgers taking photos of them all.
"Everything is so different now," Derek tells i-D, "but some things remain the same. Young people still feel the need to dress up and express the way they feel. They still feel the need to go out and hook up and get wasted and have a good time. For many of this generation, there still isn't all that much to look forward to in life so they may as well enjoy things whilst they can. The 80s, under the jackboot of Thatcherism, was a pretty dire time for young people but in some ways it's got even worse." How? "The obsession there is everywhere these days with money and celebrity, just suggests to me that people's own lives have got duller and more impoverished. The 80s weren't as interesting as the 70s and neither were as interesting or as much fun as the 60s IMHO." (Yes, that is Derek Ridger using millennial abbreviations.)
His humble opinion aside, his photos of the eighties are iconic. So much so that he's compiled them into a book called, well, The Eighties. "I think the work in this book is better than [previous photographic tome] 78-87'," Derek explains, "So I hope people like it just as much." Judging by this sneak preview, we certainly imagine they will. So, Derek, ever fancy reliving it all? "I look back at that time and it just seems so long ago and so different. No computers and no iPhones and half my life spent in the darkroom. No thank you." Vive la past.
The Eighties by Derek Ridgers is published by Carpet Bombing Culture.