“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, established-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road.”
Jack Kerouac, ‘On the Road’
I began this project in 2005, focusing on the bikers attending weekend rallies run by regional sub-groups of MAG in Yorkshire and the North East of England. MAG (Motorcycle Action Group) is a powerful grassroots political lobbying organisation with a national membership base of around 45,000 subscribers and affiliates, and its rallies serve as information points for members, existing or potential, to learn about its road safety and riders’ rights campaigns. The project title DILLIGAF is an acronym for ‘Does It (or ‘Do I’) Look Like I Give A Fuck’. Though rally organisers and punters might not appear to outsiders to care about anything they can relate to, their lifestyle choices, collective activities and purchasing power serve to raise the core funds MAG needs to pursue lobbying activities that impact all road users, at national and EU level. It might not look like it, and they might appear to prefer it that way, but they definitely do GAF.
This is not how bikers are conventionally portrayed (the work owes a greater debt to the critical humour of Burk Uzzle than the dark romanticism of Danny Lyon et al). This is also not what political activism is supposed to look like – but that’s what it is.
In the years since I began this project I’ve learned to ride a bike myself, partly to see if it was something I was capable of, but mostly because I thought it would better help me understand the appeal (why it’s considered by the subjects of these photos more a way of life than a mode of transport). Along the way, I’ve also amassed thousands of photographs, and on this page is a small selection from the edit I’ve begun and will complete in 2017, as a book dummy, with the generous support of a bursary from a-n The Artist Information Company.