You Say You Want a Revolution

The new exhibition which is on show in Victoria & Albert Museum looks through the period of 1960s and draws connections between the events happening at that time and the influence they made to our modern lives.

You will see how new music tendencies and emerge of the new fashion styles formed different way of thinking, liberalisation and emancipation of the society as a whole. In connection with economic growth and developments in hi-tech area, that period formed an important platform for further economic and cultural progress around the globe.

The exhibition will be of at most interest to the younger generation, who nowadays can hardly imagine themselves without computers, internet or mobile phones. There is a chance for them to plunge into the life of their parents and grand-parents, whereas for older generation it is a flashback to their youth, recollection of their own lives.

The exhibition starts with the overview of music underground tendencies of mid 1960s, which rapidly developed to the epoch of Beatles, Rolling and Stones and many others. They opened a new era in modern history of music and introduced the new level of openness and sensuality first to the Western countries and later to the whole world.

Alongside with changes in music came changes in fashion. The industry shifted dramatically from tailor made to affordable mass-produced clothes, bright colours and mini skirts, experimentation with different materials such as PVC, metal pieces, paper-dresses. The concept of shopping centres changed, transforming the whole idea from upper-middle class occasional tailor maid clothes to the whole universe of goods and mass produced clothes affordable at any possible style and for any type of income. TV advertising campaigns supported the changes further introducing global awareness to every home which further expanded by the development in hi-tech areas, introduction of computers and plastic cards prior to mobile phones and Internet.

Development of television brought increase in economic and political awareness of people as well, Vietnam War protests, liberalization of gays and lesbians, equal rights for black and whites, all these are the characteristics of the mid –late 1960s which are being described at the exhibition in great details and are accompanied by a lot of factual evidences.

I remember my childhood in the Soviet Russia. Every house used to have those ‘vinil’ disks at home… the music was haunting, something that you want to listen again and again, even though you would hardly understand a word… How these disks were brought to the small town in the midst of Russia is still a question to me… I remember a fashion booming, it was difficult, almost impossible to buy any good quality modern looking cloths, but we somehow had a lot of fashion magazines at home which contained layouts for self-production, so we could keep up with the newest fashion designs by making clothes by ourselves. This was the limited influence of the western world on Russia at that time. Of course, we did not have the political freedom and consumption booming, all these came later, in mid 1990s.

What was never in my radar neither as a teenager nor as a young adult later that those charming songs and bright fashion are all the product of altered minds affected by excessive LSD consumption. Not until this V&A exhibition I was able to realise how massive effect on society it had. The factual side, of course, will be true, but it raises the question, to what extent it is ethical, what example it shows to the younger generation, what message does it tell to new artists who are trying to find their own ways in art, and their own identity?