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Vinca Petersen
Exhibition "Techno Worlds"

Vinca Petersen, Dungeness Free Rave, 1994 © Vinca Petersen

Timeline of a Raver

With Timeline of a Raver (2021), Vinca Petersen presents a seven-metre-long excerpt from her installation A Life of Subversive Joy (2019), composed of hundreds of telling photos and found objects from the artist's life, from raves to road trips and organising humanitarian projects.

The story begins in the ecstatic ascent of rave parties in the early 1990s, which were integral to the development of techno culture. With an emphasis on hedonistic collectivity and gender empowerment, the ideology of raves were clearly at odds with the contemporary policies of the British government under Margaret Thatcher and their concepts of morality and family. This section of the work chronicles Vinca Petersen's journey from squatting in London and raving every weekend to buying her own van and driving to continental Europe, where she lived on the road for more than a decade. In her travels, she joined up with various loose groups of nomadic music-makers, putting on illegal raves in fields and warehouses everywhere from Portugal to the Czech Republic. The piece provides parallel timelines of her personal life in rave and the progression of the free party movement itself. Her camera was an ever-present companion. “It’s a way of recording memories,” she explains. “I remember the things I experience very visually.”

The combination of 6x4 prints and other collected printed matter plus Petersen's own words from the time gives the feel of an elaborate diary or family photo album. The timeline is about capturing moments of joy, but it not just about nostalgia. It aims to create a sense of yearning for more of these joyful and subversive moments of freedom, togetherness and play in all of our lives. The strongest sensation a viewer feels is one of connection with the artist, with the story of Petersen's life acting as a mirror into their own.


Vinca Petersen lives in Ramsgate. At the age of 17, she moved from her childhood home in Kent to London, ostensibly to go to art school but actually living in squats, working as a model on the edgier fringes of the music and fashion scene, and getting swept up into the rave/free party scene that was blossoming across the UK in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
As this scene became contained and commercialised, its more extreme elements were pushed back into the margins and Petersen left the UK to join her friends on the road across Europe, living in buses and vans and putting on free parties across the continent. Her work often explores the theme of collective joy, something she feels has too few outlets in contemporary life. When there are so few communal public spaces, gathering together to reclaim these spaces can itself be a courageous, radical act of defiance. Her alter-egos Art Nurse+ and Dr Joy bring joy and playfulness into staid and over-serious art events. She often creates spaces in which people can relax together, or ‘social sculptures’ in which people can enjoy interacting with each other. Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, Saatchi Gallery and the Turner Contemporary, and she is in the permanent collection at the V&A Museum and the Monsoon Collection.