Written by Misc

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990

Any exhibition that includes a heavy dose of Blade Runner (one of my favourite films of all time), and ends with the video of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triange (one of my favourite songs of all time), is going to be very popular with me.
And Postmodernism at the V&A is definitely a worthwhile exhibition. It’s fantastic.
They’ve just really pulled all the stops out. While it could be as simple as going to an exhibition of artifacts from popular culture – magazines, prints, furniture, costumes and design in general – what they’ve instead tried to do is fashion a whole postmodern world.
Starting with a select group of artists who were trying to do something very different, we enter a vibrantly lit staccato world. As well as design objects themselves, the ambience of the exhibition has been designed to make you feel like you’re entering the hayday of postmodernism (and I’ll let the exhibition attempt to define what exactly postmodernism is).
I recognised the sounds of Vangelis in the first gallery, where a significant proportion of Blade Runner’s opening scene is projected on a loop, alternately including or not including the sound.
Elsewhere we have Rachael’s suit and Zhora’s outfit that she’s retired wearing as she fall’s through the glass shop window as Deckard shoots her.
Another gallery begins to make you feel as though you’ve entered a strange nightclub. Surrounded by costumes from various famous videos of the eighties, we have clothes worn by David Byrne in Stop Making Sense, and the cover of Grace Jones’ album Island Life – including an indication of how it was built up in a montage format.
There are magazines from the UK and far beyond that you can only dream that you would have been cool enough to read at the time.
And all the way through there’s an acknowledgement that the movement – if that’s what it was – does so heavily rely on what went before, that it couldn’t exist without it. Was the artistic world stagnating?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that this is a fantastic exhibition and well worth visiting. It wasn’t too crowded when I saw it during the middle of the day on Saturday, and it’s open until 15 January 2012.
I even love the way that the end of the exhibition is signposted “Shop” in neon lighting. And a very good shop it is too with lots for all pockets including the accompanying book of course, but also an interesting compilation CD/DVD set.

(And yes – I really have linked to a video on MySpace).