Our culture is geared towards enslavement – for people to perform pre-ordained functions, particularly in the workplace. I’ve always tried to encourage people to think about that and to do something about it. We’ve become more and more under the thumb. We’ve lost our belief that people can effectively change anything. But on one level we’re going through a period of the most massive change that we’ve ever been through in the history of woman or mankind. There is a quickening process – we’re experiencing everything that everyone’s ever been through over millennia in one generation. I think everything might just break down. We’ll go back in to small states - people can only really survive in smaller units. People could be very happy with fuck all. Learn from the past. Live in the present. Look to the future.
Jamie Reid, Nov. 2015
I started working with Jamie by chance in the mid-90s. I was living in NY and was asked to curate a big show - a kind of retrospective. We found a fantastic old space right in the heart of town that had been a power station but had all its guts ripped out. It had catacombs and an undercover vibe, so it was perfect. We did that show in ‘97 and we’ve worked together since. Jamie’s a very interesting man from a very interesting family. His great uncle was the Grand Druid of the British Isles and his brother was a hardcore anti-nuclear activist in the 60s.
He found himself hanging out at art college in Croydon with a smart kid with crazy ginger hair, whose name was Malcolm, Malcolm McLaren. When he started his clothes store with Vivienne Westwood, Jamie joined an agit-prop, Situationist inspired, print-based collective called Suburban Press. It was in these hit and run times from 1971-1975 that Jamie learned his craft - move fast, keep it cheap and see what hits home.
In fact many of the visual tropes we know and love from his subsequent work with McLaren and the Sex Pistols were worked out during this pre-punk period. So many of the issues Suburban Press addressed - corporate corruption, government control, the banking system, loss of individual power and respect - prove to be as relevant today, so this collaboration with Shepard Fairey and Obey that focuses on these visuals are both classic and timely.
Jamie continues to work, to inspire and surprise.
He had a hand in the Occupy and Free Pussy Riot movements and is soon to be exhibiting in some great museums in Mexico. So it never dies, it just keeps getting bigger, stronger, and more beautiful...
by John Marchant / John Marchant Gallery