I love fate days! They’re the ones where you’re strolling along, enjoying life and everything falls into place without any prior planning. As a compulsive diary filler fate days are few and far between but last October a friend and I had a few free hours and a coffee cup from Benugo (http://www.benugocafedeli.com) provided the answer.
Post train journey. Inhaling lunch. Sleep deprived. Caffeine yet to hit the blood stream. Trying to think of something to do before we can check into the hostel. Neither one of us wanting to be the one to make the decision in case the other doesn’t like it. Caffeine starts to kick in. Start to focus on the coffee cup design: “£2 off the Postmodern: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 exhibition”our penny pinching ways made the decision for us.
Defining postmodernism is a tricky business. I struggled with the concept throughout University, occasionally half grasping at the meaning only to loose it a minute or two later, and I doubt that I’m alone. The V&A realised that the simplest and most effective way for people to understand the term is through the objects which defined the movement in the first place.
The exhibition displays an impressive 250 items. With designs from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Ron Arad, Michael Graves there is a lot to take in. Thankfully the exhibition reveals itself slowly, giving you a chance to absorb one side of Postmodernism before being exposed to another. It can roughly be divided into three sections which chart the different stages of postmodernism: the end of Modernism, fringe culture and finally Postmodernism becomes the popular discourse of the corporate world.
End of Modernism… For a movement to define itself as “Post-”anything means it requires a prerequisite to rebel against, in this instance, Modernism. It’s therefore fitting that the exhibition begins with “The Last Rites” of Modernism, signalling its end and the start of something new.
Postmodernism becomes mainstream… As the exhibition starts to draw to a close everything becomes a bit too familiar. The images of fashion, money and greed could have been taken from a modern day magazine but it takes a couple of seconds to draw the comparison between then and now, during which time you, or at least I, judged the past before realising that it wasn’t dissimilar to the present. It ends with a defiant assertion: “like it or not we are all postmodern now.”
Postmodernism isn’t over but the exhibition didn’t need to include items from the present day, the visitor can’t help but carry on the curator’s commentary as soon as they step onto the street. That’s why it’s such a successful exhibition.
Would you define today at Postmodern? Or are we post-Postmodern?
Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 closes this Sunday (15 January 2012) so and if you haven’t already seen it-GO NOW!
What is Postmodernism?
VISUALLY THRILLING, ID no. 28 the art issue 1985
LUDICROUS. “Consumer’s Rest” Shopping cart chair by Franck Schreiner
GAUDY. Carlton Bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, 1980.
REBELLION AGAINST MODERNISM'S UTOPIAN VISION. Demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe, the modernist flats in St Louis, Missouri designed by Minoru Yamasaki.
MONEY. Part of the exhibition.