If you didn’t go to the new V&A exhibition yet, don’t waste more time and go to visit it until the 26th of February. It is more than worthy!
Exploring all the themes which characterized the Revolution of the late 1960s, the exhibition brings you into an extraordinary world of music, beliefs, colors, fashion styles, social and political activism that make you entirely feel part of that generation of great changes, even if you weren’t there at the time.
Until 26 February 2017
“You Say You Want a Revolution: Record and Rebels 1966-1970”, the latest exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, perfectly recreates the process of ideological transformations initiated by 60s youth fighting against Western world’s traditional values. What you experience is a multidimensional art itinerary through the time that shaped our way of living, involving music, posters, design, LP collections, original fashion outfits, projected videos and films. At the entrance, visitors are given headphones that accompany them throughout the whole exhibition, automatically changing songs according to the room they are visiting. From I Can’t Get No by The Rolling Stones to Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel to Daydream by Lovin’ Spoonful, you pass through the years of “Youthquake” listening to the music that drives this period.
“Imagine…” is the evocative incipit of the contextualizing description of different rooms, introducing visitors into the cultural changes that have transformed people’s common beliefs until today; we are invited to imagine a time in which established social structures, such as capitalism, imperialism, racism, are totally reversed by the works of artists, which express their strong commitment for a free, peaceful and revolutionary world. Accordingly, the exhibition concludes on the tune of Imagine by John Lennon that leaves open the question on how contemporary society still has to deal with radical changes for a global peace.
The plenty of interesting objects and information that fills the exhibit rooms makes your journey into the 1960s incredibly vivid, engaging, and also very intensive. So I strongly recommend to not bring with you heavy bags or to be running out of time as the experience requires at least one hour to be fully appreciated. Actually, I haven’t been so lucky as when I went to visit it, the rooms were very crowed and sometimes I had to wait in a short queue to see certain artworks; I spent there nearly 2 hours, but they really worth it.
Dedicate this hour to enjoy a striking adventure through time. Let yourself be captured by the magic of the Grain of Sand, combining psychedelic images of popular culture, religions, race and sexuality with traditional painting techniques. Lost yourself through the era of “London swigging”, when Mayfair was filled by the colors of street style clothing, new boutiques, and by Twiggy’s boyish haircut and heavy eye-lashes. Give in to the voice of rock music’s pioneers, reading George Harrison’s messy handwriting when he wrote the lyrics of Taxman, seeing the pictures of the 1968 Indian meditation travel of The Beatles, and, then, immediately recognizing the extravagant tour jumpsuit of Mick Jagger.
Take some time to discover the fusion between art and music of the sixties, when the Manifesto “Fluxus” aimed to create an international community of artists bringing to the opening of the popular Indica Gallery, where John Lennon met Yoko Ono for the first time in 1966. Explore the experimental art space also through photography that, as expression of young counter-culture, documents new styles and celebrities. Surrounded by the sound of Jimmy Hendrix’s electric guitar, let yourself be “inebriated” by the psychedelic stores selling music, clothing and drug-related paraphernalia.
Look at the historical transaction from mainstream media, newspapers, TV, radio, controlled by Western corporations, to new inspiring, colorful and eye-catching posters. Participate into political activism and social solidarity, meeting Angela Davis and the Black Panthers, supporting feminist waves and gay liberation, fighting alongside Martin Luther King for human rights equality and, in May ’68, occupying Paris’ universities with counter-culture students against capitalism and the Vietnam war. Then investigate the controversies of an era where the baby-boom and the economic expansion highlight the significance of advertising and consumerism.
And finally, you can rest yourself, laying on green pillows over a grass-like-floor, and imagine to be a free-spirited hippie immersed in the nature among a huge crowd, enjoying the bucolic atmosphere, full of music, colors and hope at the 69’ Woodstock festival.
Echoing a sense of nostalgia for the heated 1960s through their enchanting artistic connotations, “You Say You Want a Revolution: Record and Rebel s1966-1970” is an unmissable experience.
Should I go?
Rating: 10/10 (considering variety of exhibit objects; rooms design; accompanying historical information and contexts; crowding; price; enjoyment)
Cost: £16 or £12 if you are a student.
Terminated the tour, I suggest you to have a look at the gallery’s bookshop and absolutely buy the book of the exhibition (here you can check the link on Amazon); it is a 320-pages-book (not particularly cheap, it costs £26 in hardcover) in which you can go through all the exhibit objects with more information, including historical introductions, critical views on the 60s counter-culture, substantial descriptions of artworks, and biographical presentations of the artists.
You Say You Want a Revolution: Record and Rebels 1966-1970 by Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, 2016