Book review Chris Steele-Perkins „The Teds“
The Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 1988. Back then, his photo book, The Teds, was already a big hit: now a new edition of this classic of
Knee-length jackets with wide lapels, skin-tight trousers and Elvis-style hairdos. Just a few years after the end of the Second World War, a new youth movement emerged in Great Britain: the Teddy Boys, known as Teds for short. Their extravagant clothing was a way of protesting against the existing social order, and they also drew attention to themselves with their riotous behaviour.
“The most fascinating thing about the Teds was the richness of the subculture and that it was being driven from below, from the working class, with a youthful rebellious energy: kids that had nothing re-inventing themselves,” Chris Steele-Perkins explains. The Magnum photographer won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 1988. Back then, his photo book, The Teds, was already a big hit: now a new edition of this classic of British documentary photography has been published by Dewi Lewis.
Once Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley reached British cinemas in September 1956, it was not long before the first riots took place. In London, cnema seats were destroyed and, when the police tried to break up cheering and singing crowds, fights broke out on the streets, bottles and fireworks were thrown, shop windows were smashed. The film was forbidden in Birmingham, Blackpool and Belfast.
With time the trend passed and teenagers became adults. 20 years later, however, a second wave of the movement swept across Great Britain. There were less riots, but the dream and the partying were back. When Steele-Perkins began to work as a free-lance photographer in London in 1971, he was fascinated by these stylish go-getter types who seemed as rebellious as ever and had lost none of their attraction.
When a magazine commissioned Steele-Perkins and author Richard Smith to do a story about the Teds, it turned into the beginnings of a long-term project that continued over years. With a curious eye, The Teds offers the reader a look at the excessive parties and Teddy Boys concerts, but also reveals a private side, in their sitting rooms at home or at a wedding. Accompanied by Smith’s texts, the book is made up of at times intimate, at times bizarre snapshots alternating with posed portraits.
Chris Steele-Perkins – The Teds
Dewi Lewis Publishing
72 black and white pictures
29 cm x 22 cm