Punks on the "Rock Against Racism" march
Gelatin Silver Print
30.6 x 24.2 cms (12.03 x 9.51 ins)
This photograph was taken during the Rock Against Racism march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park on the 30th April 1978, which culminated in a concert headlined by Tom Robinson and The Clash. At this time, race relations in Britain were in crisis. The National Front was gathering power and immigrants lived in fear of violence. Rock Against Racism was a grassroots political movement that used music to campaign against the looming electoral threat of the National Front.
Coon successfully captures the procession and purpose of the march; one becomes part of the activity as the composition of the photograph evokes the stream of movement through the streets of London. The policeman as figure of authority in the foreground, the uniform symbolic of this, is outnumbered by the crowd of purposeful school children and other young adults taking the cause into their own hands, demonstrating their self-imposed authority through power in numbers.
Coon's famous photographs of the early Punk bands, including the Sex Pistols and The Clash (whom she managed from 1978-1980), reflect her own status as intimate and insider. She has earned a unique place in British Culture: a counter-culture activist in the 1960s, a leading protagonist in the early years of British Punk and a photographer and painter. Coon also continues to work as a feminist agitator, political activist and social campaigner: particular causes include the legalising of drugs and of prostitution.
British Photography / The Hyman Collection