WORDS: Rachel Toner
Japanese artist Koki Tanaka set this year’s Biennial into motion in his recreation of Liverpool’s 1985 youth strike.
Taken back in history, original and new participants were invited down to St George’s Hall on 5th June to relive the day in which thousands of children protested against Thatcher’s so called “Youth Training Scheme”, attacked for providing no real job prospects.
Speaking to Private Life, Tanaka revealed: “The march is not only about the past, it’s also about the present.” With the likes of zero hours contracts, today’s youth are experiencing similar frustrations to the kids of 85’, making Tanaka’s historical loop all the more interesting.
Like a time machine, the original photographer took snaps of the adults he had captured some decades ago, along with their children. Resembling the optimism of the child revellers, June’s participants waved their placards with smiles, remembering and reflecting on the joyful day – which the children missed school for!
Perhaps this provided some original incentive, but the political action of 85’ was significant enough to be remembered in 2016 and with the same optimistic vision for the future. Many of June’s participants created new placards reading “Hands off our NHS” and “Refugees Welcome” whilst others remained nostalgic, stating “No Cheap Labour!”
Tanaka explained: “I am no historian, sociologist, nor anthropologist but exist somewhere in between.”
The Tochigi born artist is the mediator between Liverpool’s participants then and now, bringing old issues to the surface through artistic action so that we can decide just how relevant they still are. Lucky really that he asked such a vocal city, who told us that yes, indeed they are.
If you missed out on your chance to protest, head down to the Open Eye gallery this Biennial, where Tanaka’s film is set to document the event starting 9th July.