FU VERA GLORIA?

Marco Pierini

Jamie Reid, Los Pistoleros Del Sexo, 1979, Jamie Reid copyright Sex Pistols Residuals,courtesy Isis Gallery, UK

Exactly four years ago, on the occasion of the festivalfilosofia dedicated to the theme of luck, “civico 103” made its first, timid appearance, in the same format as today but with a minimal number of pages and the provisional, experimental nature typical of a pilot issue. 13 issues later, and just as many writers involved in the opening short story (today our thanks go to Enzo Mansueto), 70,000 paper copies have been distributed, and
it might perhaps be useful to take stock of the situation so far, even though the magazine is still too immersed in its present and projected towards its future (the new Web App civico103.net has recently become available online) to rest on its ‘laurels’, an operation ever the more risky
if attempted over the course of a festival dedicated to glory!
As a matter of fact, almost as if to nip all possible temptation in the bud, the Galleria Civica and its house organ have chosen this time round to get to grips with an artist who has approached glory in various different and even antithetic ways: Jamie Reid. Denouncing arrogance, ignorance and even the violence of the powers that be and its highest representatives, while at the same time exalting beauty, spirituality and traditions, often elaborated through his personal rereading of the works and thought of key figures such as William Blake and Thomas Paine.

The introduction to the exhibition is provided in the ever cutting words of Reid himself, extrapolated from an interview with John Marchant, the greatest expert on the artist’s work. Without aiming to be a retrospective, the show traces his development, from the end of the ‘60s right up to the present day, giving an account of the seminal years of the anarchic and neo-Situationist ‘Suburban Press’ graphic collective, of the period linked to the image of the Sex Pistols, of the other adventures in the musical field, of the mystic evolution of his art – a non-exclusively transcendent mysticism, but rather one imbibed with a physical nature and closely bound to the Earth – over a career in keeping with and consequential to it over the course of the decades.

After all, the fact the Punk phenomenon itself, over the years 1975-1977, was not in fact a sudden explosion, as the chronicles of the day and over-hasty histori ans would have us believe, but had deep in a number of aspects of avantgarde culture (Situationism, for example) and of the so-called popular subcultures (Rock & Roll, the Teddy Boys) of the two previous decades, is shown by countless references, echoes and reflections, but also the formative years and the biographical vicissitudes of many of its main protagonists. This is testified in the exhibition to great effect by the gouache Up They Rise: A Playground for the Juggler, painted by Jamie Reid in 1968, featuring Malcolm McLaren as “an alchemist: a manipulator of the new urban space” (John Savage). In 1968, the year of the French May, to which they gave their ideological support, two art students, little over 20 years old, seem to have unwittingly cast the first seeds of the ensuing youth revolt of the 1970s. This time, however, they were to do so as unquestioned protagonists.

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