You Say You Want a Revolution? Record and Rebels 1966-1970 at the V&A
If you’ve taken the tube recently, you might have noticed that the V&A has already begun advertising its much-anticipated Pink Floyd exhibition, scheduled to open in May 2017. If booking tickets now feels a little too much like planning ahead, in the meantime the museum is hosting another exhibit that explores the era and culture which nurtured some of the most iconic bands ever – including Pink Floyd.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 offers an extensive look at a uniquely formative period of international modern history. It focuses particularly on the counter-culture that grew around the musical revolution of the mid-1960s, examining its effect on fashion, design, art and social attitudes.
For fans of 1960s music, the exhibition will feel like a pilgrimage trail punctuated by relics: the costumes worn by John Lennon and George Harrison on the iconic cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; shards from Jimi Hendrix’s guitar; an outfit designed for Mick Jagger by Ossie Clark; and handwritten lyrics for various Beatles songs including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Yesterday.
The number and variety of different objects on show is very much to the curators’ credit, although the length and scale of the exhibition can feel quite overwhelming; there’s a lot to see, and a relatively small space in which to do so. Over the course of the show, colourful record covers and stage outfits give way to a round-up of international political events and movements from the era, before moving on to topics as diverse as advertising rhetoric, architectural design, music festivals, LA’s hippy communes and the space race. It’s fantastic that the less positive side of the era of free love is represented, but there’s a lot for the viewer to get their head around.
The exhibition is accompanied by a smart sound system on headphones that changes according to where in the show the observer is standing. It’s a nice idea to provide an ambient musical world, but it can be distracting and sometimes fails to pick up the right signal at the right time. That aside, You Say You Want a Revolution? provides a trip back to a formative era of modern history, and offers an insight into a cultural legacy that is still relevant today.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 is at the V&A from 10th September 2016 until 26th February 2017, for further information visit here.