Thursday, 29 May 2014

‘Modernist Revival’ book by Jon Mortimer (Café Royal Books)

Jonathan Mortimer, who documented the mod scene for six years, gives a never before seen look at the scene; in his new photo book ‘The Modernist Revival’.

Out of Jonathan’s vast photo collection, which has thousands of images, the book showcases a timeless feel which lets the photos seem as though could have been taken anytime and "would show a truth about the scene", explains Jonathan.

The Modernist Revival shows "the importance of having your own identity" in the mod scene "whether you do that through your clothes or your music or what you do with your life."

Jonathan is also compiling film footage of his time spent in the mod scene and will be creating a documentary. Production on the documentary begins over the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout!

The photographer introduces us to the weekenders Mod scene of the late 90s, and explains why not belonging can be more empowering than you’d think…

“I have never been a Mod, but I have always loved the music, style and ethos of the movement. It’s a movement some of the die hard Mods believe only really lasted from 1962 to 1964, then became a step along the development of youth culture from the Jazz clubs of the 50s, through the Suedeheads to the Football Casuals.

But it has had various revivals along the way, famously with The Jam and The Who, and has never really laid down and died. In 1998, I met the mod DJ and founder of The New Untouchables, Rob Bailey, at a weekender in Brighton and there followed a seven-year project, documenting the modernist revival scene through stills and film.

When I photograph any project, I like to remain an outsider. I feel this way I can find more truth and translate that into my images. I am very grateful for the Mods embracing me, and welcoming me onboard without being one of them. On reflection, this harks back to when I was growing up: I never really belonged to any scene (although I made a weak attempt at being a faux rude boy for a while) but I would hang out with various different groups, from Rude Boys to Goths. I’d flit between them all and it is this, I think, that’s gone towards my love of photographing people who are passionate about what they do and how they lay claim to their identity, whether that be through their style, their beliefs or their whole way of living. I may not be one of them, but I feel like I understand their motivation implicitly.

My new book, Modernist Revival, is a small selection of my archive taken from 1998 to 2005. The book centres around the weekenders club scene across Europe, but also makes reference of the iconic scooter. I’m in the process of planning an exhibition of the work, and the book is out today.”


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