Monday, 2 November 2015

The other KKK: how the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift tried to craft a new world

Young men and women strike ritualistic poses on Stonehenge, Silbury Hill, the White Horse of Uffington and the Long Man of Wilmington: stark figures wearing strange, hieratic clothes in the elemental landscape. Taken in 1929, there is something disquieting about these black and white photographs. You feel as though you have intruded on the rites of a secret society that may or may not be benign, that indeed intends to be ambiguous and unsettling.
In one image, a young woman in long belted coat and cap is captured raising her arm by a standing stone. It’s an echo of the salute that would sweep Germany only a few years later, and it jars the viewer back into a time between the wars: a continent destroyed, and a desperate search for new solutions that often took curious forms.
Annebella Pollen’s The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift is a revelation. This scholarly book explores England’s most fascinating and forgotten youth movement. Through a detailed examination of the highways and byways of esoteric thought and alternative politics in the early 20th century, as well as plentiful photographs (many taken by a young Angus McBean, an active kinsman in the late 1920s), it reconstructs a radical moment lost to history, a future that never happened...

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