about ourhistory archives:

Creativity. Freedom. Passion. Excess. Politics. Death. Life. Subcultures, by their very nature, operate on the fringes of society, their existence based upon a difference, a resistance, to the mainstream. ‘Subculture’ as a sociological term arose to define groups of people that couldn’t – or wouldn’t – find their place within the confines of convention.

Celebrating the unity of people and cultures and the inclusion of the British history of dance culture within a European context.

2018 our history archives exhibitions is an oppositional statement to a movement that is simply ignorant to the diversity and richness of our collective histories – cultures that simply could not have existed without Europe.

In 2018 Britain a cultural and political shift is happening. The rift between sentiments drifts wider, and within UK dance culture many are working and building on projects, exhibitions, and events that are founded on an out-dated and insular narrative.

Ourhistory began in 2008 with an exhibition celebrating 20 years of acid house. Originally launched at the London/Newcastle project space on Shoreditch's Redchurch Street, it quickly moved to London's Selfridges, before travelling onto IMS Ibiza, Tokyo, and Shanghai. Red Gallery subsequently went on to collaborate  with esteemed Time Out Club editor Dave Swindells to deliver 'Spirit of Ibiza', an exhibition and book publication that celebrates 1989's second 'Summer of Love', documenting the birth of British club culture in Ibiza. '89, coincidentally the same year the Berlin Wall came down, provides the focal point for another ourhistory project. The then desolate post-war city of the 1980s GDR was fertile ground for the birthplace of European techno and in 2015 Red Gallery assembled a photography and film exhibition entitled 'After the Fall'. Documenting the seminal Berlin techno club Tresor, the exhibition chronicles the nucleus of a movement that has now exported worldwide.

Following Berlin, Red Gallery embarked on a series of ethnographic exhibitions, showcasing the various cities that helped grow subculture scenes into one globally and coercive cultural and political force: Paris, Milan, Madrid, Estonia, and Tokyo. Whether it’s the iconic photography of Ouka Lee and Miguel Trillo which captured “la movida” or curators KIWA and Terje Toomitsu documenting the parallel world of Estonian hippies, or Chris Low's DIY ethic in photographing Tokyo's Punk scenes, Red gallery are presenting their own take on how, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, music, politics and literature, these entities came together to turn thoughts and dreams into a powerful subversive movement. Each show highlights the personal memories and journeys that came from these subcultures, and gives credence to the cultural echo of these cities that can be heard on UK shores and beyond. 

Step back to late 1970s Spain. As Franco’s dictatorship dissolved, a new countercultural movement out of Madrid exploded. While La Movida, a hedonistic, cross-disciplinary movement became responsible for Spain’s burgeoning arts scene – and directly the hippie-led creative communities operating on the island of Ibiza – their stories would soon be rewritten. A vibrant and unique sound was emanating from the White Isle, congealing influences from US funk and disco, Latin, Italo and local influences. But what was so tragically coined and repossessed by the British as ‘Balearic Beat’ was, in fact, the music of La Movida. Balearic was never “found”, despite whatever ‘explorers’ may protest, and the myth of its discovery underpins the importance of Red Gallery’s work in dismantling these histories and emancipating them for the people that originally forged them.

ourhistory archives seeks to give voice to the forgotten people and communities that continue to shape our world, and address the cultural sanitisation that is ubiquitous in subculture history. The projects provide a space for meaningful dialogue and continue to highlight the cultural, social, and political significance of these movements. Red Gallery also came to recognise that many of these experiences related to a larger set of events and a wider, more complex cultural landscape – but again, predating the online revolution, they too remain untold. History’s now being written by the people.

about the collection:

Labels alone do not do justice to what has happened in the last 30 years, and Ernesto Leal and the Red Gallery have taken on the task of aggregating as many of the relevant strands as possible and expanding them to an audience that is willing to engage. During the last twelve years or so, Leal and Red Gallery have worked to meticulously curate and deliver a number of keynote exhibitions, collectively grouped under the ourhistory series. Over time the audiences of these exhibitions changed from jaded 50-somethings to a younger crowd with a more lively interest in culture, history and the arts.

Known for their subversive tendencies, subcultures are the living experiments, dreams, and ambitions of people that ultimately are looking for a better future – or at least an alternative one. From punk, to rave, and everything in between, subcultures have not just been at the forefront of collective social evolution, but are in fact the basis, the source, of our wider culture and society today.

Leal will continue this work to reset the balance of our historical narratives, globally. Each of the ourhistory archives have tours and off-site shows in place, while the online dialogue continues to grow and evolve.

Archives so far include: 

  • Berlin Techno: Tresor and After the Wall archive: from Red Gallery Exhibitions, with photographs from Tilman Brembs & Ben Di Biel in association with Dimitri Heggeman /Tresor private collection.

  • Milan's Italo Disco: Spaghetti Disco Archive – A collaboration between Ernesto Leal (ourhistory/ Red Gallery) and Lorenzo Cibrario.

  • La Movida Madrileña: Madrid's Club Culture 78 -85 – From Red Gallery exhibition, with photographs from  Miguel Trillo, Ouka Leele and Javier Astudillo private collection

  • Soviet Hippies: 1970s Estonian Psychedelic Underground Culture – From Red  Gallery exhibition in association with Terje Toomistu and Kiwa Noid Soviet Hippies Archive.

  • French Touch: A journey through French Electronica – A Red Gallery exhibition in collaboration between Ernesto Leal (ourhistory/Red Gallery) and Ben Osborne/Noise of Art.

  • Tokyo Punks: Up ! Tokyo Punk & Japanarchy Today – A Red Gallery Exhibition in collaboration between Chris Low and Ernesto Leal (ourhistory/ Red Gallery).

  • USA Rave Culture: Tree Carr personal archive 1990-1994

  • New York City Party Culture 1970-83  - Creativity, Collectivity, Convergence! – A project collaboration between Tim Lawrence and Ernesto Leal (ourhistory/ Red Gallery).

  • UK Club Culture: (work in progress) Creativity, Freedom, Passion. Excess, Politics  and Club Culture.

  • Photography:

  • Alla Bogdanovic, Andreas Bleckmann, Dave Swindlles, Kevin Martin, Chris Low, Dave Swindells, Debbie Bragg, Dougie Wallace, Duncan Telford, Gala Netylko, Gavin Mills, Henry Harrington, Innes Reekie, Jan Bernet, Jason Manning, Light Surgeons, Nick Ensing, Matt Smith, Matt Kelly, Michele Baron, Molly Macindoe, Normski, Roger Nell, Roslyn Gaunt, Todd Graft, Vickie Parker, Visionary Underground.

  • Graphics from:

  • Arthrob, Basement Jacks, Coco Varma, Darren Bartlett, Dave Little, Dave Dorrell, Derek Yates, Fiona Cartledge/Martyn Passey, George Georgiu, Jamie Reid, Jason Kedgley, Jimmy Cauty, Junior Tomlin, Mark Archer, Mark Wigan, Martin Brown, Martin Wollerstam, Oli Timmins, Patrick Lilley & Norman Jay, Rogan Jeans, Suddi Raval, Trevor Johnson, Tom Hingston, Tonka, Wayne Anthony.