Conference Programme

( Please note the programme can be subject to change)

Thursday 14th July

———9.15am Registration Venue: A Block next to canteen and reception. Atterbury street entrance & coffee/tea provided Venue: BG02

Please come to the registration point as indicated below.

chelsea_site_map Click image to download

▸ ———10.00 – 10.30am Welcome Venue: Lecture Theatre

Pro-Vice Chancellor Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon colleges, UAL

George Blacklock, Dean of Chelsea

Christian Pierce & Dr. Sheila Malone, IJMS Editors, US

Caryn Simonson, Conference Organiser (London) & Programme Director for Grahocs Communications & Textile Design (Acting), Chelsea College of Arts, UAL

▸ ———10.30-11.00am To Be confirmed

▸ ———11.00 – 11.30am Break – Coffee/Tea Venue: BG02 – along from Lecture Theatre

▸ ——————11.30am – 1.00pm Panel: A Place to Ride Venue: Lecture Theatre

Jeff Morrison

The Relevance of Place in the Modern British Motorcycle Travelogue

This paper will examine the relationship between biker as author/narrator and place on the basis of a variety of modern travelogues. The destinations and intermediate locations recorded in these—often at least unfamiliar to the general reader but at times willfully exotic and full of danger—would be obvious sites for reflection, for negotiation of the relationship between travelling self and unfamiliar other. Interestingly, these located reflections are often less compelling than the engagement with the route and the vehicle, even where we are talking about a nondescript side-street and a plain bike. Correspondingly, book titles seldom focus on specific places which one might imagine to be an apparent selling-point. Instead the focus is on scale of journey (even if it is just Long) and the state of rider, whether Loose, High, godlike (Jupiter!) or Uneasy, to take liberties with just a few titles. All of which begs a question: Does it matter where you go? Or is it simply a matter of going?

Jeff Durrant

Africa’s Remarkable Embrace of Motorcycles

Motorcycle use in Africa, particularly in urban areas, has boomed in recent years. Millions of motorcycles have been imported and international motorcycle manufacturers are now building factories in several African countries. Motorcycles are being used for taxis, inexpensive personal transport, small-scale mining operations, medical services delivery, and adventure travel vehicles in addition to the occasional and unfortunate use as weapons of war. The influx of motorcycles into urban areas has created issues concerning security, emissions control, congestion, and safety as injuries have become increasingly common. These uses and trends in Africa’s motorcycle geography are discussed and then connected to associated trends within three human demographic variables: 1) total population; 2) age structure; and 3) urbanization. The results are examined and compared between global regions as well as within Africa, bringing additional insight to Africa’s remarkable embrace of motorcycles.

Jenny N. Smith

Riding the Dragon

 The entire commercial world is looking at China—this includes some of the most renowned names in motorcycles, such as Ducati and Harley-Davidson, which have long set up professional presences in the Middle Kingdom. Their business potential is promising, rapidly developing along with the rest of nation but what about the riders, the potential customers? As vast as the domestic market are the challenges domestic motorcycle enthusiasts face; the closer you approach the metropolises, the more legislation turns against motorcycles. Riders are forced to circumnavigate restrictions and travel in grey areas; enjoying this hobby is not that simple here: imagine being able to source any bike your heart desires but not being able to obtain legal plates, let alone fill up the tank at a public petrol station! In pictures, personal anecdotes and rider experiences, my presentation Riding the Dragon will provide insight into motorcycle politics and prospects in China.

▸ ———1.00 – 2.15pm Lunch- see this website for suggested cafes etc. or eat on site at the canteen (not included in conference price)

▸ ——————2.15pm -3.15pm Panel: The Art of the Motorcycle (Community) Venue: Lecture Theatre

Tom Cardwell

 My Fictional Biker Jacket: the story of a painting

 This paper will feature a detailed presentation and analysis of my painting How the west (Country) was won (2016) which features a fictional decorated leather biker jacket. The jacket references the customised jackets of the rockers and ton-up boys (Friedrichs, 2012) that chart the rider’s history and affiliations. The painted jacket chronicles the lives of two quasi-mythical characters–Wat Tyler, the 14th Century revolutionary leader, and a cowboy from Wyoming who shared my own name. These stories are used to explore narratives of identity through place and the search for freedom variously experienced in the old English country of Wessex and the American West. These narratives coalesce in the image of the motorcycle, viewed as a modern incarnation of the horse as a symbol of individual destiny described in the novels of Cormac McCarthy (1992, 1994, 1998) and the lyrics of Metallica’s eponymous album (1991).

Simon Larbalesteir

Equus Machina

Equus Machina explores the complex relationship between man and motorcycle through my photographic practice. As a deliberate move away from earlier work that focused on the themes of melancholia, compression, decay and ruin, this new series examines and investigates an alternative viewpoint using the motorcycle as the principal motif. My research involves the following concepts: Traversing Material and Virtual Territories, Customization & Hybridization, Speed & Velocity, and the Photographic Index as a Chronological Trace. By its very nature, the motorcycle is purpose built for traversing geographical territories—physical spaces, often off-road and uncharted. The motorcycle represents an agent of change, in the sense that its customization and modification is now a dynamic cultural industry, which opens up questions of the social and psychological value of hybridized processes of the material transformation of machines. This paper is being presented as a work-in-progress in the early stages of my PhD research.

▸ ———3.15 – 4.15pm

Artist Talks in the Triangle space with their work Venue: Triangle Space, Chelsea College College of Arts

▸ ———4.15 – 6.00pm BREAK – (use this time for yourself – see website for surrounding café options etc.)

▸ ———6.00 – 8.30pm Exhibition Opening and motorbikes welcome on site: Motorcycle Cultures II Triangle Space, Chelsea College of Arts, curated by Caryn Simonson and additional artworks selected by BOLT. This is open to all.

Friday 15th July

▸ ———9.00 am Coffee/Tea Venue: BG02

▸ ———10.00 – 11.00am Panel: Riding in Written Form Venue: Lecture Theatre

Nora Berning

Breakdowns in/of Motorcycle Literature before/during/after the Inter-War Period

 In literature, the inter-war period (1919-1939) is known for its literary creativity. This does not hold true for motorcycle literature, though, since only seven works were published during that time. Reading motorcycle literature of the inter-war period closely, I will analyse breakdowns of a motorcycle and the ways in which they shape storytelling. Considering furthermore works that came out before 1919 and after 1939, respectively, I wish to illuminate the meaning of the metaphor of breakdowns in motorcycle literature. In this context, I will investigate whether motorcycle breakdowns serve as an image for a personal crisis on the part of the motorcyclist qua narrator. Finally, since what precedes and follows the inter-war period are breakdowns of a whole genre insofar as there is no motorcycle literature after 1915 (until 1922) and after 1937 (until 1954), I will also shed light on the cultural dynamics of breakdowns of motorcycle literature.

Thomas Goodmann

Rider, Writer, Tinker, Thinker: on John Berger’s To the WeddingIn John Berger’s 1995 novel of multiple narrators, To the Wedding, the father figure of Jean Ferrero rides to the wedding of his daughter as he dwells on what he assumes to be her truncated future, stopping to buy her a gift, telling the story of her love and of her illness to Tsobanakos, the blind peddler who is the primary narrator. This paper will unspool the anticipatory powers of the preposition in the title, exploring what each character may be said to bring ‘to’ a wedding that may or may not have occurred. The preposition becomes a figure for movement in time, for narrative as mode, distilled in Jean’s journey on his Honda, the very vehicle on which Ninon, his beloved daughter, recalls riding as a child. Riding is like writing as Jean Ferrero—the smith; the maker—is a figure for Berger as the miglior fabbro of fiction, likewise aboard his Honda-in-time. The wedding, I offer, is a locus more of anticipation than a destination; writing (and telling) the only salvific vehicle to ride.

▸ ———11.00 – 11.30am  Break – Coffee/Tea Venue: BG02

▸ ———11.30am – 1.00pm Panel: Motorcycle Identities Venue: Lecture Theatre

Esperanza Miyake

 The Dark Side of Japan: Japanese identity, gender and motorcycles

Based on a combination of visual analyses and some interviews conducted with Japanese ex-Bosozoku members, bikers and their families, my paper explores the relationship between Japanese identity, gender, and motorcycles. In Part I, I explore the importance of motorcycle imagery in Japanese manga and its representation of certain Japanese masculinities and femininities. Part II focuses on an online European advertising video from Yamaha’s ongoing global campaign surrounding its MT series entitled, The Dark Side of Japan. By analysing the ‘dark’ Japanese femininities and masculinities represented in the video, I argue how the advert both reinforces some of the motorcyclic, gendered representations outlined in Part I, whilst also being an Orientalist projection of Japanese-ness through its motorcycle imagery. Drawing predominantly from gender theories, media and (sub)cultural studies, and animation studies, this interdisciplinary paper thus considers the role of motorcycles in both engendering Japanese identities in popular culture, and the circulation of a ‘dark’ Japanese subcultural capital through the motorcycle.

Lisa Garber

Panther’s Story

In 1988, in a moment of inspired and deliberate madness I bought a slightly used Harley-Davidson Hugger. During late summer of that year, I learned to ride the bike and by November I was licensed. I dubbed the bike Panther for its unusually low, muscular frame and throaty growl. This paper recounts the travels, mechanics, lessons, modifications and relationships of Panther. The Voice inside my helmet provides a counterpoint to the narrative, with its subplots and romances.

I will focus on the relationships which developed, over the course of 25 years, from choice and necessity, as the bike transformed from a used 883 to a protective predator. The Voice waxes philosophically about the catalytic, interaction between myself and the soul of the machine. Finally, a distillation of the knowledge and wisdom that have been the result of the many years spent in Panther’s care and caring for the machine is offered.

Katherine Sutherland

Beach Landing

The 2011 Tohoku tsunami killed nearly 19,000 people and released 18 million tonnes of debris and nuclear fallout into the ocean, forming an ‘agentic assemblage’ (Bennett) and a ‘field of emergence’ (Massumi): the debris threatens to act on Pacific Northwest beaches. This oceanic field contains collectable objects to be beachcombed, objects individuating as they land, generating agentic and cultural power. The first object combed in BC was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, later reunited with tsunami survivor, Ikuo Yokoyama. The Harley-Davidson is entangled in Japanese-American military histories, marking an ironic ‘invasion’ of a North American coastline. For Yokoyama, this beach landing telescopes in reverse (Virilio) in his reunification with the bike. Yokoyama collects, restores, curates the motorcycle; the beachcomber, once removed, (re)collects, (re)curates and restores/returns the motorcycle to Yokoyama; I propose to (re)collect, (re)curate and (re)comb, at a third remove, the entangled object, both in the debris field and on the beach.

▸ ———1.00 – 2.30pm Lunch – see this website for suggested cafes etc. or eat on site at the canteen (not included in conference price)

▸ ———2.30 – 4.00pm Panel: The Motorcycle Community Venue: Lecture Theatre

Ben Cocking

Motorcycle Adventure Travel: imagined communities and the rise of the niche

Taking as its focal point motorcycle adventure travel, this paper seeks to explore the structural dynamics of online communities built around blogs and forums. It will examine the modes of representation deployed in online communities, using Bourdieu’s concept of ‘distinction’ as a means of examining the ways in which the presentation of ‘symbolic mastery’ facilitates access to specific communities. It will consider how identification with such communities is asserted and challenged by its participants. It will also explore how representations of ‘symbolic mastery’ in online motorcycle adventure travel communities can be transformative or destructive. Lastly, some points of comparison will be made between these online, specialised ‘niche’ communities and motorcycle adventure travel content in more mainstream travel journalism sources. Specifically, consideration will be given to the ways in which the individual might negotiate between these sources and the ways in which notions of ‘Cultural Capital’ are established or reformulated accordingly.

Christian Pierce

With a Little Help From My Friends: the communal garage experience

 The DIY aspect of motorcycling appears alive and well within certain factions of the community, especially in the café and scrambler scenes. Neglected old bikes once relegated to rust and retirement are finding new life as riders buy classic ‘CBs and vintage Viragos’ with an aim at customizing them and returning them to former or re-imagined glory. Much of this is done amongst younger riders, but where are they gaining the know how to work on their own machines and, given urban density and restricted space, where are they working on their bikes? Enter the communal garage, where motorcyclists pay a modest membership fee and in return receive access to lifts, tools, and information. The proposed study will examine one of these communal garages, specifically Brother Moto in Atlanta, Georgia. Intended, as they claim, for the ‘Moto Curious’, Brother Moto has adopted a unique business model and consequently filled a much-needed void within the urban motorcycle landscape. By interviewing the proprietors, my ambition is to explain the need for this type of garage within urban motorcycling and argue the likely longevity. Additionally, I wish to highlight the challenges involved in launching this endeavour in a new market and the specific issues encountered with zoning (requiring an eventual move within the city). Although I live in the suburbs, received instruction on motorcycle repair at a trade school, and work in a private garage outfitted with my own tools and equipment, I am curious how others I see at bike events in Atlanta keep their machines road worthy. Given the popularity of Brother Moto, and other garages like it, I see this as a possible alternative that may welcome more riders to two wheels, especially in metropolitan areas. This study will therefore shine a light on the communal garage experience and deliberate its importance in motorcycling today.

Loukas Mexis

Building a Café Racer Community During the Recession: how DIY and crowd-funding overcomes the referendum-driven economy in Greece

 It took more than 50 years for the Café Racer scene, which originated from the infamous Ace Café and post-war Britain, to make a come back. Today, custom motorbikes and personalized two-wheeled machines bring people together in newfound Motorcycle Clubs all over the world. Apparel brands of old are reliving the glory days while major Motorcycle Companies such as Yamaha and BMW Motorrad are leading the way by releasing vintage/classic inspired machines that fit into the Café Racer scene. But while the scene is booming in strong economies such as Australia and Britain, in Greece the recession and financial crisis is preventing anything from picking up. This brief research will present interesting facts about how in a capital controlled country, people came together and crowd-funded various local Café Race events that received global attention.

▸ ———4.00 – 4.30pm Break – Coffee/Tea Venue: BG02

▸ ———4.30 – 5.30pm Film Screening – to be confirmed Venue: Lecture Theatre

▸ ———5.30 – 6.30pm Break

▸ ———6.30/7pm Optional Dinner at the Morpeth Arms, Ponsonby Place round the corner from Chelsea College of Arts – reserved for those who want to book ( more details to come – pay on the day of registration at the conference)

Saturday 16th July

▸ ———10.00 – 11.00am Panel: Mind and Body Relationships to Motorcycling Venue: Lecture Theatre

Paul Blezard

Feet First into the Future (if only we had the sense!)

It’s more than a century since bicycles with bolted-on engines developed into ‘proper’ motorcycles. Since then, motorcycles have diversified into a beguiling array of diverse machinery, from rock-hopping trials bikes to touring behemoths; back-flipping motocrossers to 200mph MotoGP weapons. Engines can produce more power than even racers can cope with and chassis, brakes, tyres, suspension and electronics have all improved dramatically. Meanwhile, much simpler, cheaper, down-to-earth machines provide transport for the masses, especially in developing regions of the world.

Yet cars have progressed much further; in recent years they have made dramatic progress in fuel economy, comfort, safety and overall running costs. By comparison, only the humblest commuting motorcycles are truly economical and in the first world at least, motorcycles are rarely more than mere leisure vehicles; practicality has largely lost out to pose value and performance; whether race-replicas or grand tourers, large capacity bikes are mostly just big boys’ toys.

This presentation describes, (with real-life past and present examples) how the wider adoption of a ‘feet first’ riding position and other car-like features could enable motorcycles to become safer, more practical and more economical vehicles (especially in the burgeoning field of electric power), without being any less fun to ride.

Kimonas -Stylianos Konstantelos and Nicolas Christakis

Emotional Management on Two Wheels

Urban daily life entails, among many other things, transportation and thus involvement in a special communication field: the road itself. Numerous studies have investigated the management of a person’s emotional state, while several others dealt with the individual’s self-image and its association with the objects he possesses. Combining the scientific interests above, this study explores issues that directly pertain to the rider’s psychological condition, regarding the emotional bond created between the driver and his vehicle. Using the method of semi-structured in-depth interviews in a total of ten male participants, shades of the deeper driver-motorcycle connections emerged. This study also unveiled a wide range of emotions experienced when driving as well as the ways they are handled. As it is shown, motorcycle riders mention both positive and negative emotions, from joy to anger and fear, which they have eventually been able to confront in an effective way, preserving their physical and symbolic integrity.

▸ ———11.00 – 11.30am Break – Coffee/Tea Venue: BG02

▸ ———11.30am – 1.00pm Panel: Riding for a Reason Venue: Lecture Theatre

Sheila Malone

The Politics of Noise: motorcycles making, masking, and muddling the noise of protest

 Theorist Jacques Attali notes in his seminal essay on Noise that in ‘noise can be read the codes of life, the relations among men… when it is fashioned by man with specific tools, when it invades man’s time, when it becomes sound, noise is the source of purpose and power, of the dream…’. Noise plays a specific role in the politics of protest. Noise moves the tolerance of audible messages through various power structures and paradigms of struggle. In this presentation, I argue that the noise of motorcycles, the noise of engines revving reveals a complex relationship between the state and the individual. The use of motorcycles to display affiliations, to protest status quo, and to challenge dominant ideologies is powerful, purposeful, and politically messy. In this presentation, I trace the use of motorcycles in various modes of protest; I focus on how motorcycles disrupt the social, revealing the indelible charge of sensorial codes of meaning of producing noise–the productive process of drowning out voices, the turning up the volume of dissident perspectives such as how the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes established a sonic audibility in the 1970s to the recent off-duty motorcycle policemen who through using the loudness of their motorcycles protested death penalty opponents, to the Patriot Guard Riders who mask the bullhorns of the Westboro Baptist Church protests.

Gabriel Jderu

Riding in Romania

In this paper I argue that the motorcycling suffered a fundamental transformation during socialism, evolving from a means of locomotion affordable to professionals, technical intelligentsia, downward mobile pre-socialist high bourgeoisie and socialist families until the 1970s into a form of ‘dropping out of socialism’ between the 1970s and the late 1980s. State support for moto-sports and the centrality of DIY maintenance and repair activities cut across the entire socialist period. The research is based on qualitative data gathered from various sources: interviews with ex-motorcyclists and old motorcyclists, ethnographic data gathered since 2008 in yearly conventions of the ‘communist’ makes of motorcycles, motorcyclists’ internet forums and Romanian automotive magazines between 1950 and 1990. I will analyse how motorcyclists obtained agency and a sense of freedom through motorcycle use in a society that limited freedom in a variety of ways. I will present data about imports, production and acquisition of motorcycles, as well as their social practices such as the trips and moto-sports organised during the socialist period in Romania. Motorcycling functioned, since the 1970s in a similar way to music subcultures, yoga and other networked actions that generated freedom.

Edward (Eddie) Wright

Motorcycling and Issues of Safety and Risk – It’s all about the balance

We have all heard and understand why people wax lyrical about the freedom, feeling of speed, the fresh air in your face and the multitudinous other poetic phrases describing why we ride a motorcycle. And yet, it seems every day someone questions me about ‘why I ride a bike when it is SO dangerous’. I enjoy riding a motorcycle; but am I being complacent, self-indulgent or just choosing to ignore the dangers? Risk is the product of the consequences of a hazard and the likelihood of it occurring. If the hazard is crashing then the consequences are always going to be bad. The process of training and competence can’t eliminate the consequences of crashing, but they can reduce the likelihood. Likewise wearing protective clothing can sometimes reduce the consequences; but without training or competence likelihood remains high. We have a choice; reduce likelihood or consequence (or both) to an acceptable level to reduce the risk or continue to believe in and quote phrases like, ‘if you ain’t come off lately you ain’t tryin ‘ard enough,’ ‘live to ride,’ or ‘ride hard or stay at home.’ I think there may be an alternative–it’s all about balance.

▸ ———1.00 – 2.00pm Lunch – on site in Chelsea’s canteen – lunch provided

▸ ———2.00 – 3.30pm Panel: Tuning In: Motorcycle Imagery in Film & TV Venue: Lecture Theatre

David Alan Walton

Sons of Anarchy: biker films, focal concerns and narrative pleasure 

In this talk I shall use the recent series Sons of Anarchy and a limited selection of films to focus on the way narrative cinema organizes its storylines in terms of space and time to analyse how aspects of motorcycle cultures tend to be included or excluded. This will require some use of theories of subcultures, linked to ideas drawn from ‘screen theory’, which will enable an analysis of how motorcycles are focalized within film, something which requires an exploration of the way motorcycles and riders are filmed and how the images are edited in order to direct audience attention. This will help to understand how far narrative film merely uses riders and motorcycles as props and to what extent it includes or excludes the everyday interests or ‘focal concerns’ of those who have a strong interest in motorcycles.

Sarah Hoiland

Hollister and The Wild One: The Erasure of Female Motorcyclists and Motorcycle Clubs from the “Birth” of the Outlaw

Numerous scholars and writers have pinpointed Hollister, 1947 as the birth of the (male) American biker outlaw and the 1% fringe. Stanley Kramer immortalized the image of the male motorcycle outlaw in The Wild One (1953). Women, specifically female motorcyclists and motorcycle clubs such as Satan’s Daughters MC, are nearly absent from the Hollister history and were relegated to topless distractions, accomplices in the destruction, or in the case of The Wild One, removed almost entirely (Britches) and replaced with the ideal 1950s woman (Kathie). This presentation will situate this erasure and/or replacement of the female motorcycle outlaw within a broader historical analysis of American female travelers who challenged the status quo and transgressed gender norms. Primary source documents and photographs from the San Benito County Historical Society will be shared with the audience to broaden understanding of this pivotal event and the women who were involved.

▸ ———3.30 – 3.45pm Exit Chelsea college of Arts- college closing

▸ ———4.00 – 5.00pm Optional – Travel to the Bike Shed – meet us there or meet on Chelsea’s Parade Ground 4pm and travel up together by public transport

6.00pm – Optional – Arrive at The Bikeshed, Shoreditch for viewing bikes, barbers and socialising

7.00/7.30pm – Optional – Dinner in Shoreditch with anyone who wants to continue conversations

Sunday 17th July

Optional Brunch TBC (not included in conference price)

▸ ———10.30am Meet outside Tate Britain, Millbank side, next door to Chelsea College of Arts

▸ ———11.30am (approx.) Arrival at Café for brunch – venue tbc depending on interest


Programme subject to  amendments.