Sex, drugs and magick in Ibiza

Photographer Gareth McConnell's latest Ibizan series goes deeper than the rave culture tag

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Sex, Drugs & Magick
Gareth McConnell

Artist and photographer Gareth McConnell has been shooting portraits of Ibiza's clubbing generation for over ten years. The first of these photos were published in 2004 with Steidl, then came mashed-up overprints and multiply exposed contact sheets. Now he's mining his Ibizan archive once more with his new project, Sex, Drugs & Magick (Book Two)Despite the title (an appropriation of Robert Anton Wilson's 1987 book), the monochrome portraits focus more on the subjects than the hedonistic settings. "I wanted to make a kind of straight-but-not-straight version that tuned in on a low, deep and dark level," McConnell says. "I chopped close in on some of them so you can really see right into the eyes of the soul."

The series is accompanied by an essay from Matthew Collins, the author of Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House, on Ibiza's role within contemporary culture, "There's a very particular narrative about what happened in the evolution of rave culture," McConnell says, "and I wanted to lay out some facts about Ibiza’s role in that which rightly or wrongly are received as the truth." He achieved the unique intensity of the black-and-white shots by using a photocopier. "It gave me the freedom to manipulate the prints in a way that would be impossible in colour," he says, "and it gave them a narrative unity too."

"The government, which violates the second of these commandments every day, is now beginning to violate the first, forcing students in some schools to take Ritalin, an amphetamine-like drug that quiets unruly children but may have side effects not yet known. It is likely, given the general character of governments, that similar violations will multiply beyond all our guesses when bureaucrats discover that they have such delightful new toys as drugs that will reduce whole populations to perpetual childhood, decrease their aggressive rebelliousness, stunt their alertness and generally turn them into the drones described by Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World. The heretic of the 21st Century might be, not a man who takes a drug the government forbids, but a man who refuses a drug the government commands" – Robert Anton Wilson (final paragraph from Sex, Drugs and Magick, 1987)

Sex, Drugs & Magick (Book Two) is available to buy from Sorika now

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