You say you want a revolution? exhibition for V&A

How do you define a revolution? Today the V&A has announced it is going to try to do that with a blockbuster show in the autumn. You Say You want a Revolution? Records and rebels 1966 – 1970 will take us through six rooms, bringing the whole era and its youth culture to life: music, art, demonstrations, music festivals, early environmentalism.

The exhibition will look at the era’s optimistic idealism, how young people were motivated to come together and question established power structures across every area of society. More than 350 objects including photography, posters, literature, music, design, film, fashion, artefacts, and performance that defined the counterculture will illustrate the way that a whole generation shook off the confines of the past and their parents, radically revolutionising the way they lived their lives. Youth culture stood up for rights for people of colour and women in the shadow of the threat of an atomic bomb, Profumo and Vietnam.

Martin Roth director of the V&A says: “This is probably one of the most important exhibitions that I have worked with. Some of the changes have had a huge impact on the world we live in today, and the exhibition will explore this.” The music is going to be a huge feature, with Sennheiser using it’s new 3D sound technology to immerse us in the spirit of the era. One of the highlights of the exhibition are 200 LPs loaned by John Peel’s wife, and curator Victoria Broackes says they will form the spine of the exhibition. There is also a Beatles section, they were a vital influence of the period and George Harrison’s wife has lent the V&A his Sergeant Pepper outfit, his sitar and some letters.

It’s the first exhibition to explore the rebel revolution and it’s viewed from today’s perspective looking back. In those days gambling was illegal, theatre was censored, gays were put in jail, people were hanged for murder and LSD was still legal until 1966. The first man landed on the moon in 1969. Anti-Vietnam protests linked all the major cities of the world and the first credit card was issued by Barclays in 1966. There is also a look at early computing. “Pioneers and hippies came together,” says Broackes of early computing, “Equitable sharing of knowledge was considered a way to a better world.” The exhibition will end with the birth of the environmental movement and Greenpeace.

The exhibition also looks at the periods successes and failures. There was the Oz trial, Charles Manson murders, early deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, then there is the question is computing the best or worst impact on our lives? plus the environment is in a really bad state.

V&A, 10th September – 26th February 2017. They say it’s best to book in advance tickets on sale from 26th February, £16 and V&A Members go at … shop.vam

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