19 November 2011

Postmodernism at the V&A

It had been far too long since I had been to the V&A so I took a day off work to make amends.

The V&A is a sufficient draw by itself but the temporary exhibitions are always excellent so I went to see the current one on Postmodernism.

My knowledge of the subject was (very) limited to architecture, and that would have done me, but the breadth of material in the exhibition was staggering. Much as it is in the rest of the museum.

Sadly (but understandably) photography is prohibited so I have to rely on my memory. Perhaps I should have taken notes like all the students did.

Going to a V&A exhibition is like shopping in Ikea. You are made to walk the long way round, you have no idea how far you still have to go and there are unexpected things around every corner.

Unlike Ikea those unexpected things are also interesting and you want them madly. Especially the teapots. And there were lots of tea pots along the way.

The highlights were as eclectic as you would hope them to be.

A section on performance had short videos (and costumes) by, amongst others, Devo, Grace Jones, Visage, Klaus Nomi, Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson.

The later was a loop from O Superman with a large close up of her face and the hypnotic huh huh huh pulling your attention away from the lyrics. I spent several minutes in the small display area for this and could have spent quite a while longer. Simply wonderful.

Blade Runner got several mentions, as did the word "bricolage". I suspect that the curator was playing games with those of us who read most of the notices. I like games.

One of the rooms had a collection of gorgeous album and magazine covers from the late 70's and early 80's.

Elsewhere there was a coffin in the shape of a car, models and photographs of exotic buildings and complexes (the Italian piazza in America was mental), tables and chairs, jewellery, more costumes, etc. etc.

The final visit to dystopic Blade Runner was a clip from the opening section put to the comforting repetitive strains of The Grid by Philip Glass.

The exhibition took me an hour and a half to walk round, and that's probably the best way to show just how enthralling it was. 

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