Sex, Drugs & Magick (Book Two)
Gareth McConnell


  • Photographed, sequenced & designed by Gareth McConnell
  • Text by Matthew Collin author of ‘Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House’
  • Edition of 523
  • 152 pages
  • Softcover with dust-jacket
  • 9.4 x 11.8 in / 24 x 30 cm
  • ISBN: 978-0-9575573-4-5
  • Published in 2014 by Sorika
  • Signed by the artist
  • Stone cold collectors item
  • Last few at this price
  • Seen elsewhere (Abe, eBay etc) for £150-£250, see screengrab in images


'This is an absolute masterpiece of our time', Philippe Azoury


In this new photographic art book Gareth McConnell continues to revisit his photographs of young visitors to Ibiza – a well known series of McConnell’s, which is characterised by a more subtle understanding of his subjects than just the usual ones of sex, drugs and sunny hedonism. McConnell is a highly respected photographer, known for great technical ability. However, in this new book has reworked his studies as defiantly low-tech monochromes, with an exaggerated emphasis on reprographic redundancy, and a pleasure in the failures of vintage reprographic techniques. It’s as much, if not more, about photography and print themselves, as it is about its subjects.

McConnell has always had a poetic sensibility, situated in alignment with acute skills of documentary observation. Here, he transcends documentary orderliness, gathering his images into a darkened, narrative unity, so that they become servants of an ominous, low-lying mood. It’s the disturbed calm of heavy, electrically charged, pre-storm weather, or the ambiguous twilight of the awakening reveller – the reveller who does not know if the birds are singing for morn, or for eve.


* Accompanied by a new, informed essay by Matthew Collin, author of ‘Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House’

* McConnell’s title is an appropriation of Robert Anton Wilson’s eponymous counter culture classic.

* McConnell’s first book to feature his Ibiza work was published by Steidl in 2004, with an essay by Neal Brown

* Strictly limited edition of 523.


1. Thou shalt not force thy neighbor to alter his consciousness.

2. Thou shalt not prevent thy neighbor from altering his consciousness. *

‘The government, which violates the second of these commandments every day, is now beginning to violate the first, forcing students in some schools to take Ritalin, an amphetamine – like drug that quiets unruly children but may have side effects not yet known. It is likely, given the general character of governments, that similar violations will multiply beyond all our guesses when bureaucrats discover that they have such delightful new toys as drugs that will reduce whole populations to perpetual childhood, decrease their aggressive rebelliousness, stunt their alertness and generally turn them into the drones described by Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World. The heretic of the 21st Century might be, not a man who takes a drug the government forbids, but a man who refuses a drug the government commands.’

Robert Anton Wilson (final paragraph from Sex, Drugs & Magick, 1987)

*Timothy Leary


'What McConnell is doing now, for the second of two books that bear the title Sex, Drugs & Magick (named after a text by the visionary writer Robert Anton Wilson), is remixing his original photographs as a DJ or producer would remix a record – albeit in a visually dissonant and wilfully rough way. Gone are the sharp colours that characterised his C-type prints, replaced by a grainy, lo-fi monochrome that hints at the desperation at the heart of hardcore rave culture and, perhaps more pertinently, at McConnell's darkening creative imagination.

"In treating my photographs this way," he says, "photocopying the original colour prints, messing with the contrast, cutting into them, degrading or attacking them, in a sense – it gives them a unity that more readily evokes some of the darker themes I am interested in: the idea of dead or non-time, that space to be endured between the periods of exaltation that occur during the mass communions of dance and drugs.

"That, in turn, brings me back to my primary obsessions as an artist: the age-old themes of mortality and aloneness that the subjects are consciously or unconsciously engaged in attempting to overcome and how, in this particular context, that fundamental need can be manipulated, commodified and exploited." (To this end, McConnell has included an essay on Ibiza and rave culture by Matthew Collin, author of Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House, to put his images in socio-historical context.)'

Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian