Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Back to the Sixties at the V&A ....

We will have to trek up to South Kensington shortly to see this new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum: YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: RECORDS & REBELS 1966-1970. Thats a mouthful .... The V&A site says:

This major exhibition will explore the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism.

I have not been to the V&A for a long time, its such a massive place - but this sounds our kind of show, it runs until February next year. 1966-1970 was a crucial era for me, being 20 to 24 then, and living the London life, going to the Roundhouse (to see The Doors, Jefferson Airplane etc), the NFT, hippie underground clubs like the UFO, seeing 2001 in Cinerama and on acid, loving BLOW-UP etc  - I even lived off the Kings Road in Chelsea for a year or so then. 

It was not only the fashions, music, movies of the time that were so relevant, but that counterculture era in full swing. Perhaps the political significance of that time is too immense for a mere exhibition to encompass, as it will have to cover quite a lot, from the Paris revolutionaries to the US civil rights protests and the dawning of gay lib.
That perceptive critic Philip Hensher says there is little space given in it to feminism and the nascent gay rights movements: "The curious effect is to make it seem as if the revolutions of the late Sixties were a matter of most concern to heterosexual white people, and only at the margins were black and other non-traditional members of society allowed grudging admission". 
It does though capture some of the excitement and the liberation of that era. Being a young gay then I lived through it all, so will be able to see for myself before too long. 

As per the attached review, it seems a massive exhibition
headphones and all - well, at £16 a ticket ....
Steve Dinneen of CITY AM says:
The V&A’s David Bowie Is follow-up isn’t concerned with challenging stereotypes so much as celebrating them. Mannequins in Austin Powers getup blink with giant eyes; quotes form and disintegrate on the walls; psychedelic posters and record sleeves clutter every available surface.
It uses the same audio guide as David Bowie Is, detecting where you’re standing and fading in the appropriate music or speech, allowing the curators to micro-manage your personal soundtrack; Martin Luther King blends into advertising muzak blends into The Doors. There are objects of historical significance – the jacket John Lennon wore in the video for Imagine, the battered high-backed chair on which Christine Keeler posed naked for Lewis Morley – but Records and Rebels isn’t aimed at cultural trainspotters. Where it impresses most is in capturing the breakneck speed at which ideology, music and fashion shifted over these years, how a perfect storm of influences created a period of change unlike any before or since.
The first room looks at possible causes for the “revolution”; the erosion of trust in the establishment (evidenced here by the Profumo affair), the rise of the civil rights movement, the increasing popularity of LSD. The exhibition then races through various cultural movements – fashion, music, protest, consumerism – relying on punchy visuals rather than display cases and captions; one room features a Vidal Sassoon salon with a real-life model getting a hair cut, another recreates Woodstock, complete with faux-grass and beanbags. London is heralded as the capital of the world, with Carnaby Street its beating heart (hard to imagine now, with its rows of bland American chains).
The protest section is a highlight, a cacophony of recorded speech and angry music, divided into sections on Women’s Lib, the Black Panthers, Mao’s Cultural Revolution (illustrated with a Little Red Book and a creepy under-lit bust), France’s May 68 protests and, of course, Vietnam.

Everything is painted in broad strokes and primary colours – those hoping for nuanced discourse will leave disappointed. But nobody does mixed-media exhibitions like the V&A. Records and Rebels seamlessly fuses fashion, music, art and history into a dazzling, chaotic experience that will leave anyone under 60 with the distinct impression they were born into the wrong generation.

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