February 6th 2015
March 28th 2015
Opening on Thursday, February 5th 2015 from 5 pm to 9 pm
In 1982, the photographer Gilles Elie Cohen met the “Vikings” on a waste ground of la Villette in the North of Paris. They were a band of kids, of “Cats” (in American slang a “cat” is a cool guy), a sub-culture of fifties rock’n’roll, who valued partying, dancing, colourful 50s outfits, and a love of beautiful vintage cars. They took inspiration from the “Del Vikings” who were the first Rock’n’Roll group in the 50s to include both black and white members. Their style and the music they listened to (original Rock’n’roll as well as many Afro-American artists) set them apart from the other clans who moved in the Rock’n’roll scene, namely the Teddy Boys and the Rockabilly Rebels.
Gilles Elie Cohen started to hang round with the group day and night, following them on their car rides and to their parties and concerts. By immersing himself in their universe he thus engaged in an in-depth photographic work. It was in this context that he got to know the “Black Panthers”, another group made up predominantly of young West Indians who kept company with the same set. The “Black Panthers”, who had borrowed their name from the American activists, can be considered as the forerunners to the anti-fascist groups “antifas” and “chasseurs de skins”, who were to fill the news from 1985 onwards. Their athletic style (martial arts) and their clothing (jackets inspired by the US Air Force) would be taken up again by the Ducky Boys, Red Warriors and other Black Dragons who tasked themselves with fighting and hunting the neo-Nazi skinheads from the streets of Paris.
Soon the “Vikings” (who were also called the “Del Vikings”) had around a hundred members. They would frequent the current nightclubs and laid down the law in certain parts of the city. The fate of one of their number, Petit Jean, whose portrait is on show in the exhibition “Vikings and Panthers" at ADDICT Galerie, is pretty revealing of this overall frenzy. After having been part of the “Del Vikings”, he joined the punks of the Fontaine des Innocents in 1983 and started following the “Raya” of La Souris Déglinguée. He then discovered the edgy psychobilly of the English group The Meteors, who he followed all the way to England, where he was to live in squats. Returning to Paris at the end of the 80s, he died following a mix-up at the Stalingrad metro station. La Souris Déglinguée dedicated a song to him, Little John, which featured on their final album Les Toits du Palace.
Attached to a completely out-dated movement, these
youngsters defended in their own way a style and an authentic rage of life.
They also represented an original and demanding culture, with strict codes and
a music that did not follow the main stream. It is also a universal reflexion
on time passing by, and the cruel dreams of youth, where innocence and candour
live alongside the most vicious violence.
Following Punk and Grunge, Rockabilly of the 80’s
invites itself to the galerie ADDICT!
know why, the gangs got into a violent fight, one evening, in the Montmartre neighbourhood. We began to lose touch. There
were fewer and fewer meetings. People would fall silent as I arrived. The
scenes of violence became more frequent.