Go See: You Say You Want a Revolution?

Rory Sheridan

Insights Student Editor

Rory gives us an honest review of the V&A’s recent show. Travel back in time and experience 1960’s pop culture.

Between 1966 – 1970, something absolutely crazy, radical and mind blowing for its time happened.

The British people demanded something else, an alternative, a different government and way of living, which is also bizarrely also taking place in today’s world. London – ‘The Swinging City’ (according to ‘Time Magazine’ in April 1966) was the centre of attention as artistic and social morals were being challenged.

Seven of these challenges, or ‘revolutions’, are presented in the V&A show which will develop as you walk through the space. There is something for everyone in this show, including fashion, moving image, graphic design, sound, curation, illustration and much more.

Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Installation image for ‘You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 70’

Before you even enter the space, you are presented with a pair of headphones, much like the ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition in 2013. The headphones blast a soundtrack into your ears as you move around. It feels quite chaotic. You may also feel the same about the curation of the exhibition as you move through the events that the show covers rather quickly. Visiting this exhibition twice, I found the overall exhibition experience much more pleasurable the second time round. Without using the headphones I had a little more space.

The most fascinating section for me was the space just before you enter through the doorways labelled either ‘Count Me In’ or ‘Out’ which consisted of a video installation with five projections, screening short clips. This installation was timed to take over the room every so often. The content was pertinent to the times we live in now, addressing black rights, ‘black power’, homophobia as well as the Mao & Chinese revolution.

Don’t let your attention fade right at the end of the show. Before you exit down a corridor, just to the right of the exit door is a projection of ‘Where From There’, edited by filmmaker Emily Harris. This is an outstanding montage of archival clips showing British history and its key moments in such an inviting and engaging way.

Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Installation image for ‘You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 70’

The timing of this exhibition is really interesting for the V&A. 2016 was the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s book ‘Utopia’, whereby the inhabitants of a fictional island reject things like personal gain and property. Instead, they find peace at being part of a community.

This exhibition shows how even in today’s world, we are still extremely influenced by the happenings of the 1960s. Culture definitely has the potential to have a lasting impact on our lives in many different ways. Some of the events of the period examined by the exhibition, we take for granted in our current society, influencing how we go about our lives today.

Perhaps forty years on from now, with all of the massive anti-establishment events which are springing up across our world, there may just be an exhibition about the ever changing world we currently find ourselves in today.


‘You Say You Want a Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970’ was a paid for exhibition at the V&A


Close Bitnami banner