TEST DEPT: DS30 TOUR
AV Festival presents a tour in the North of England and Scotland of Test Dept’s DS30, the acclaimed film that premiered at AV Festival 2014 within the monumental structure of Dunston Staiths, built on the River Tyne in 1893 to ship coal from the Durham coalfields to the world. Marking 30 years since the 1984–85 miners’ strike, DS30 is a political collage of sound and image featuring footage of mining communities from national and local archives together with material from Test Dept’s own archive related to the strike. The group made a unique contribution to underground culture of the 1980s and 1990s, operating at the front line of struggles that are still playing out in the present day.
DS30 is touring the North to venues in the ex-coalfield areas of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Tyneside and Scotland, reflecting Test Dept’s Fuel to Fight Tour in support of the miners. Just as revolutionary artists travelled around the Soviet Union via red ‘agit trains’ after the 1917 revolution, in 1984–85 Test Dept hit the road in the ‘battle bus’ through the mining towns of Britain.
During the tour, Test Dept collaborated with mining communities, encouraging local people to find their own creative voice as another weapon in the fight to maintain their culture and livelihoods. These bonds lay the foundation of The South Wales Striking Miners Choir, with whom they recorded the album Shoulder to Shoulder to raise money for the Miners’ Hardship Fund. Radicalised miners such as Alan Sutcliffe from the Kent coalfields took to the stage (performing tracks with Test Dept on three albums) to voice their disaffection in a collaborative voice of protest.
The UK screenings of DS30 also celebrate the launch of Total State Machine, a 385-page PC-Press publication documenting Test Dept from 1981 to the present, capturing the wider history of British music, culture and politics in the 1980s and 1990s. The book contains original artwork, photography and film stills including reflections from Test Dept founding members Graham Cunnington, Angus Farquhar, Paul Jamrozy and Brett Turnbull; Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire); Robin Rimbaud (Scanner); Marek Kohn; Malcolm Poynter; Ivan Novak (Laibach); Alan Sutcliffe (Kent miner) with an introduction by Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb.