To the disruptors
We love disruption.
Not the kind of disruption that makes you late for work or distracts you from your Netflix box set. The kind that makes you check yourself and be thankful that you’ve witnessed something unique, surprising and special. The kind that requires bravery, determination and imagination. The kind of disruption that ignites a movement and shifts a culture – that makes you stop and gasp out loud.
In the week that America celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, we take a brief look at a few of the other significant cultural events that have shaken the world.
Woodstock was a music festival held on a dairy farm northwest of New York City, between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Initially designed as a profit-making venture, it famously became a “free concert” only after the event drew hundreds of thousands more people than the organisers had prepared for.
Over the sometimes rainy weekend (when has the rain ever stopped the party), 32 acts performed, including Joan Baez, The Who, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who famously performed a 10 minute guitar solo of Star Spangled Banner. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive focal point for the counterculture generation. A pivotal moment in the history of rock and roll and one that transcends music.
Man on Wire
Occasionally, a seemingly impossible challenge is undertaken, just for the hell of it. French high-wire artist Philippe Petit first conceived his ‘coup’ when he was just 18, after reading about the proposed construction of the twin towers in 1968. 6 years later, the ‘artistic crime of the century’ was achieved.
Petit sneaked to the top of Tower One, rigged the tightrope with his team and tightrope-walked between the two towers for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire, during which he walked, danced, lay down on the wire, and saluted watchers from a kneeling position. Office workers, construction crews and policemen cheered him on – the entire population of New York were oblivious to history being made in the skies above them.
Sex Pistols – Lesser Free Trade Hall Gig
‘The gig that changed the world’.
One June 4, 1976 a gig by little known punk band The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Trade Free Hall heralded the start of the British punk movement and the post-punk movement that was soon to follow.
Playing in front of a scant audience (rough head count was around 42), the attendees were so motivated by the performance they became disruptors and creators in their own right. In attendance were Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (who organised the gig and opened for the Pistols), Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook (who formed a band called Joy Division the day after the gig), the two founders of Factory Records Martin Hannet and Tony Wilson, Mark E. Smith of The Fall, and one Steven Patrick Morrissey, who would then form The Smiths.
Mick Hucknall was also there, but let’s not talk about that.
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
Considered the iconic work of British art in the 1990s, Damien Hirst’s highly controversial shark piece has become a symbol of British art worldwide.
Created in 1991 by Damien Hirst, entitled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” is an artwork that consists of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine.
Completely isolated from its natural setting, instead of being in motion, in the water, we see the shark completely frozen and preserved. Here we have a direct experience of the shark, not mediated through any media. We are therefore forced to consider the shark in a new and different context and re-evaluate how we perceive the animal. In Hirst’s piece, we come face to face with the reality and physicality of this familiar image and are forced to consider it in a new setting.
On the march with Ally’s Army
In 1978, Scotland were supposed to win the World Cup. Everyone said so, even the Brazilians. Our team had the perfect balance flair, skill and aggression and a manager who was bursting full of optimism. What could go wrong?
Well, in true Scotland fashion, everything.
Drugs scandals, discontent, boredom, lack of preparation all contributed to Scotland’s woeful performance – Peru 3 Scotland 1 anyone?
In potentially the most Scottish thing ever to happen, we beat the World Cup Finalists Holland 3-2 in the final game (with Archie Gemmill scoring the greatest goal in the history of football) but still went crashing out.
Surely the most disruptive event of the 20th Century.