Youth is the time of beautiful and excessive disorder, stormy and risky, moving between chaos and experimentation, inner and outer conflicts, and personal growth, subversion, and knowledge. It’s the perfect moment for creative rebellion, vibrating in fashion, dancing, music, and arts, a manifest against the rules and limits of society. Youth rebellion has always been countering mainstream culture, instead embracing subcultures and countercultures, radical political views, extreme experimentation in fashion and music, giving birth to movements such as punk, goth, metal, Juggalo, or New Romanticism.
The notion of being young, rebellious, and disobedient has travelled through time acquiring new meanings and aspects in different social and cultural contexts. Young rebels have fought the rules of conformity and social injustice, using disobedience as means to express their ideals: individual freedom, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-homophobia. Youth subcultures share a sense of community, a tribe with their own values and priorities, with a common feeling of friendship and belonging.
Disobedient teenagers have used their clothing and appearance to shock public opinion, creating with great boldness and freshness new styles, not hiding but instead celebrating the fact of being amateurs, improvisers, who enjoyed what they do, because what they do is who they are. The history of youth rebellion is indeed accompanied by an explosion of creativity, great performances, big festivals and lots of fun, as documented in the photographic book by Molly Macindoe, Out of Order, a visual archive of youth and disobedience. This collection is an account of the free party and teknival scene from 1997 to 2006, and the history of a personal journey of discovery through Europe and Middle East, from London secret parties to France, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Iran, Israel, and Morocco. At the same time, this journey is a discovery of fertile grounds and spaces, natural places, forests, beaches, enormous open fields and even deserts, but also of unusual, ignored urban spaces, where crowds of young people dance on roofs and in empty swimming pools, party in squatted buildings, use abandoned industrial places and old warehouses and spend nights having fun in railway tunnels.
Today, the gap between young and older generations is also hosted by digital media. Teenagers use the web to manifest power and freedom, to speak their mind and disobey. They are indeed affected by the power of internet and social media: their music and fashion preferences, the subcultures they belong to, the aspirations they have, their rebellion, their icons, their sense of belonging to a group are being increasingly defined by the consumption of digital material and the time spent inhabiting these non-physical spaces. New subcultures are born and spread online: seapunk, hipsters, and haul girls, for instance, use the digital world to create new forms of identity, creativity, communication, and community. But this also means that a higher level of scrutiny is applied to these manifestations of rebellious, creative youth. For all the freedom that the internet brings, it also brings new norms and limitations, leading to an important question: how will an archive of youth as we experience today look in the future? Are young people allowed to be disobedient, in a manner that shapes their character, their social bonds, and provides them the genuine freedom of creative expression that former generations had?
Words: Veronica Mafolino
Copy edited by Elena Stanciu