A new photo exhibition by documentary photographer Gilles Elie Cohen reveals his time spent with two notorious Teen youth culture gangs the Panthers and Vikings.
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In the early 80s, French photographer Gilles Elie Cohen documented pictures lifestyle of two Parisian youth groups and their obsession with the American subculture of the s.
The French-Tunisian photographer and documentary-maker met the Vikings ina rockabilly group of disaffected, ethnically mixed youths sexy white chick nudes the Paris suburbs, and started following them night and day. They were a gang of predominantly first and second generation young West Indians, and had taken their name from the American activist movement of the 60s. The Panthers were the first gang of what is now considered anti-fascists, inspiring groups such as the antifas and chasseurs de skins skinhead hunters.
The gangs lived a life of partying, concerts, drugs and violence, often frequenting the trendy Paris nightclubs.
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In time, they laid down the law in certain parts of the vikings, often clashing with other Paris gangs such as the Teds and the Rebels. Gilles Elie Cohen submerged himself in this raging lifestyle, wandering around with the young people and witnessing the parties, friendships, grit and violence. One night, for unexplained reasons, the two gangs violently clashed in the Montmartre district, marking an end to their alliance and their relationship with Cohen. There were fewer and fewer meetings. People would fall silent as I arrived.
InCohen, made a film, Rock contre la montreabout his experiences with the gangs.
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Many had died of violent deaths. I had the feeling the film tried to display this tragedy… This film remained. I had wanted it to be party.