Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric

Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric

We caught up with curator Ernesto Leal to talk about the exhibition event which gets under the skin of clubbing subcultures from Tokyo Punks to Berlin Techno.

Ourhistory Archives, Logic & fabric present: Club Culture | fabric | 25 April | 6-8pm | £5

Tell us about Club Culture exhibition coming up at fabric

For the last 12 years part of my personal work is to archive club culture, and whilst I was running Red Gallery I decided to attempt this and begin to document the European club cultural input.

It started with Berlin’s Tresor and eventually ended with six archives from Madrid, Estonia, Tokyo, Paris and Milan. It includes personal archives, from club promoters and from photographers that were there right inside the parties.

Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric 1
Gavin Mills

Why is it important to celebrate the history of these subcultures?

To me it’s important to celebrate our culture whilst our culture is still alive, to celebrate the achievements, the celebrate the creativity, to celebrate the ups the downs, to celebrate our spaces where we met people we would never have met in any other situation, to celebrate the spaces that change us for ever. And to celebrate real history now and for future generations to read up on real experiences and stories from people just like me and you.

Secondly the question should be: Why celebrate this history at fabric… I have worked and run events at some of the UK’s most celebrated arts institutions but none would give full justice to the images on show than to be being exhibited in one of our most important cultural institutions. 

Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric 2
Fruit Machine at Heaven – Jason Manning

Who or what inspires you to keep this culture alive? 

I suppose inspiration is the wrong feeling, is more what drives me. We are now politically living through an extremely right wing period of history, where some in our culture have forgotten where the roots of our culture come from. Where you get DJs and sometimes promoters put out racist and homophobic statements. My main message is that the main driving force behind club culture is and always has been of inclusivity, acceptance and the collective experience, one that we all have at one point or other have experienced.

Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric 3
Ren and Liz overlooking Kingsland Road Dalston London 2000 by Molly Macindoe

Do you think these kinds of club subcultures still exist in London?

I’m not one of those old gits that thinks that parties back in the 90s were better, to me that kind of attitude is a totally defeatist one, in my time at Red Gallery I saw first hand the passion and the drive that young people have.

I take it back to your last question… throughout my now 12 year journey collecting archives, one of the main things that keeps coming up is that in a place like Spain where after 40 years as a fascist state, La Movida was born. Whether it was Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society”, acid house came out as a contra-statement or it was where a behind the iron Curtain ruled over their kind utopia a subculture was born survived and grew… To me wherever right wing despots build walls I have no doubt that a new type of subculture will come out.

Interview: Ernesto Leal on new Club Culture pop up exhibition at fabric 4
Jeff Mills Tresor 1994 by Dimitri Hegemann from Tresor Archives

Could you identify any current trends?

One of the main trends I saw at Red Gallery- and some of the best event were one- day multi faceted, crossing over all types art, music, art, fashion and films, even to the point where the actual spaces became irrelevant – these kids are taken the moment to a different level.

If you were the Mayor of London what would your main issue to tackle be?

Poverty and low wages, directly affecting young people both in mental and physical states.

What are your favourite London haunts?

I have lived and worked in East London for nearly 25 years, I love how you can walk down a street and bump into an exhibition or a warehouse party, I love how people can move to an area and find people they can work, live and party with.

Get your tickets to the event here