Vinca Petersen shares images from her photobook No System published with Steidl in 1999. No System is included in the national collections at the V&A and was shown at Tate Modern in 2019. Petersen shares an insight into her process and why she makes work.

Could you explain your series ‘No System’ in two sentences?
No System, published by Steidl in 1999, chronicles my life living on the road putting on illegal raves throughout the 1990s. The Criminal Justice Bill drove ravers and their beloved sound systems out of the UK, so they hit the road and started to do parties in Europe and I joined them.

What one thing has most helped to shape your practice?
My way of living.

From the series No System, © Vinca Petersen
From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen

Why photography? Why the still image?
Photography was around me a lot as a child, and I saw the value in recording things and preserving them for another moment in time. Holding a stack of newly processed 6×4 prints was one of my great pleasures as a young adult, and still is today – it’s just a bit harder to find places to process them. I never really valued objects or even places, but my boxes of photos are incredibly precious, and always have been.

Where do your ideas begin?
They used to be inspired entirely by what was going on around me. Living in a community that operated outside the ‘norms’ of society was fascinating on all levels, including the visual. I recorded what was going on, and within each image I captured people I loved, places that were beautiful to me, and events that were often extraordinary. Now my ideas come mainly from within my own mind. I am fascinated with the concept of a state of being in which humans seem to be electric – it can be a place somewhere between a protest and a celebration, or it can be a more dreamlike, emotionally connected state. I used to want to record that, and now I also want to create it.

From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen
From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen

What’s next?
Literally what’s next are group shows at the Saatchi Gallery, London and the Turner Contemporary, Margate and solo shows at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland. The reprinting of my book ‘Future Fantasy’ (Ditto, 2017) is happening now, and ‘No System’ (Steidl, 1999) is being reprinted in the future.

What’s next for me in my work? More exploration of the idea of socially engaged art and how I can make work that both expresses what I must express and does what needs to be done.

From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen
From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen
From the series ‘No System’, © Vinca Petersen

For more from #2 Dance click here. 

For more of Vinca’s work and to get a copy of her book ‘Future Fantasy’, click here. 

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