10th Sep - 26th February 2017. Temporary exhibit space
Spanning four years across 1966-70 the exhibit explores key themes of Music, Fashion, political activism and communication. The space is sectioned into 6 areas; Identity, Looking ahead, revolution in the street, Consumerism, Gatherings and communications. To me the exhibit was less about looking in retrospect and feeling nostalgic but having an experience as close to the 60s as I can get. It was more informative than having a sense of looking back.
On entering the exhibit you are handed headphones and a wireless device which is synced up to areas of the exhibit. Hearing different songs, sounds and audio as you move around the areas to heighten the sensory environment . At certain times I found this a great experience, but while I was trying to read information, or look around the space, it distracted me and made me slightly delusional when I returned to walking around.
The first topic of Identity looks at youth culture, through fashion and music they gained a voice and produced another demographic market which adverts, hair salons and fashion brands catered too. To be young was fashionable. 'Takes 5 years when an optimistic youth - driven culture argued for radical change driven by visions, last of rebels pioneered revolution. What appeals to you? and what will you do?' this opening quote foreshadowed the exhibit, made you question how you can change things for the better, not through war, but through peaceful protests, music and art. A topic which is very much needed to be called into action in today's climate.
The space in which Identity was explored was filled with bright clothing against a wash of white, extenuating the patterns, colours and began to lead you into the realms of phycadilia, being on the brink of an LSD breakout. The phrase 'Youthquake' was coined which created 'The scene' a scene now which is so iconic and recognizable. A piece which caught my eye creatively was the mystic eye poster dress 'Toughness is woven into the non-woven fabric. If you should tire, just open the seams and hang it onto your wall, it optimizes fun, disposability and customization' all points which people still thrive off today. A piece very ahead of its time, yet very impracticable. It the standard A line shape, it oozes 60s teenager.
From the uprising of the teenager, the expansion of the Beatles begin to show. Already as an established hit boy band, they release Sgt Pepper, being number 1 for 27 weeks and selling 2.5 million in 3 months. Richard Averdons colourful posters display prominent as you enter the next room. Clearly paving the way for drug culture, crazier colours and intense musical experimentation. Being a large Beatles fan girl one of my favorite pieces was hiding in an alcove. The Sgt Pepper costumes of George and John. The colours were bright, but the shade subjude. The intricacy of the fringe hemming and medals was incredible beautiful. Being surrounded by artifacts such as George's sitar, his Planet Earth passport. Oscar Wild and Edgar Allen Poe's collage cut outs from the album cover, and one of my personal all time favorite artifacts was George's deep purple velvet jack, silver embroiled leaves, with bell sleeves lined with psychedelic colours. A truly amazingly crafted garment. Through out the entire exhibit, the Beatles and John Lennon were the most referenced, with hand written song lyrics, photographs, clothing and photographs littering round the spaces. Which I did not mind.
In the center of all the peaceful citizen protesting, music and fun fashion was the pivitol turning point of the Vietnam war. With videos of John and Yoko's sleep in, fighter uniforms and information on women's rights, it is striking, shocking and impacting. '(The Draft is) White people sending black people to make war on yellow people in order to defend land they stole from red people'. The main focus of these protests all lead up to the gathering of Woodstock. A room which was dominated with large screens and bean bags presented an array of performances and snapshots of the festival. Watching the entirety of the video I was fully immersed and forgot I was in an exhibit. From looking around at everyone else they to did also forget. People were singing along, tapping feet or were smiling. It was a room full of positively and fun, the core features of what Woodstock was.
The last artifact of the show I thought was a very poignant ending. John lennon's brown 'imagine' Jacket. In Ron Howard's 8 days a week Whoopy Goldberg describes The Beatles as colorless. They also wouldn't play a segregated audience, and John and Yoko famously took part in various peaceful protests. In a day and age where violence, discrimination, racism and separation is occurring, it was a subtle moment to end the vibrant exhibit on. Were the V&A sending a message to the audience? that they too, didnt like today's climate.
Here are two sneaky photographs.