RAW took over Camden’s Proud on September 25th, AW being a fashion-fuelled interdisciplinary arts event that has taken the clubs of LA by storm and is now branching out across the pond, having already conquered most of the US, Canada and Australia.

At their first event, Translations, I expected to feel inspired. Their movement online embodies the growing concept of showcasing the work of emerging artists and ‘helping the starving artist succeed.’ When I got there I was challenged to overcome overcoming the fact that everyone there was dressed a lot better and generally a lot cooler than yours truly. To the cynics out there: the night attracted A LOT of hipsters and cool fashion kids, be prepared.

Once you get over that (or are already into that) there was a lot to do and see. The walls were covered in artwork of all kinds; fashion photography, portrait, still life, performance photography, strange and wonderful Photoshop/camera-tricked art. There was a wonderful surprise phallic puppet in the corner of the room who taunted me with his/her member every time I walked past, and there was artwork displayed on stalls across the room.

…it’s a great space to utilize for any event…

Proud is pretty awesome. Because of its reputation before you go you tend to have it in your head that it’s one of those deep and dark night clubs where all the rooms are the size of basketball courts and the people are always drunk and hyper on vodka Red Bull. However this is very wrong, it’s a great space to utilize for any event. After you go past the first two relatively normal rooms you enter a narrower hallway, with compartments much like the bottom floor of Camden Market. For Translations they were used for green rooms, where artists and models would prepare themselves with nothing but wooden bars to protect them from the outside world, as if you were peering in on performing animals at the zoo. This actually gave a nice ‘inside/outside’ sort of vibe and made you feel as though you were part of the action. Some cages were filled with independent jewelry artists, shoe makers, bag makers with the merchandise was on sale as well as the creator being at hand ready to talk to you about their work.

It reminded me of an international hipster version of The Accidental Festival or Saints of the Lot, or even a smaller version of the more artsy summer festivals. Going out to a club where there’s live art in front of you makes it all seem a bit more sophisticated. The theatrical aspect was wanting though. Being there you might have longed to be taken away for a few minutes and hoped that one of the little compartments might have an immersive game or dress up shop or something similar that you could join in with.

…The models were dressed in futuristic-chic underwear…

It was quite noisy; there was one place to sit and discuss the work, but there wasn’t any work in there, except for a series of short films which you still couldn’t really hear. After three hours there had been a band, a puppet, a performance artist and a DJ. Then it came, out of nowhere: the fashion show. The models were dressed in futuristic-chic underwear and due to the nature of the space we actually were able to see the backstage rituals and calls of the show happening aside of the audience.

The best part was that you could collect business cards of all the artists and designers and performers, go home and look them all up (or if you missed the card you can check on the RAW website). It was really quite enriching. It was all the exclusiveness of a cliquey industry invite-only event, but public and in a very public venue; quite an achievement and a well-deserved success for the RAW team.

RAW’s next is on November 27 at PROUD Camden. For more information see their website http://rawartists.org/london

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