riday 20th November, 2009



National Portrait Gallery – Beatles to Bowie: The 60’s Exposed

This exhibition was a look at the photography and art that surrounded the rise in ‘Pop’ music in the 1960’s in Great Britain. Amongst the promotional photography there were examples of album covers and magazines from the era. I was interested in the ideas of layout and arrangement within the photographs that formed a distinctive style from the 60’s. I also like the idea portrayed of a new, exploding youth culture and the iconic status that bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who gained.

Whitechapel Gallery – Sophie Calle: Talking To Strangers

The exhibition is a premiere of the English version of Prenez Soin de Vois (Take Care of Yourself) and in it Calle invites 107 women of different professions to interpret an email sent to her by an ex, breaking up with her. The result is many different exhibits from cartoons to short story’s to video and performance pieces. I liked the concept here, that she is opening up her life for comment and interpretation, and I kind of admire the bravery that it takes to display something so personal. However, the work felt to me like a group of women gathering together to complain about men and I struggled to see it’s true purpose. If the exhibition was supposed to be a ‘two fingers up’ to the ex who dumped her, then I sort of understand that sentiment there, but if it was supposed to be an interpretation of what happened then I feel that it was limited by the use of solely women. Would it not be a more complete interpretation if men were involved? I believe that if men were also given the opportunity to read and react to the email then you would be able to see if the ‘ex’ was behaving in an unusual way or not, and whether it was one man that was the focus of the exhibition or all men. If nothing else, the potential divide in opinion would create a talking point.

Victoria & Albert Museum – Japan

The V&A is always a good venue to find a wide array of antiquities and artifacts from a range of countries and cultures which can give a different perspective on art to the exhibitions in the more specialist art galleries of London. Currently the V&A are running an exhibition on the Maharaja of India, and linking in with this are number of other exhibitions of Asian artifacts. The room that caught my interest most was the Japanese room (room 45) where there are displayed, among other things, traditional swords and suits of amour. Maybe this is the young boy in me coming out, but I find these things very intriguing. What interests me most is the vast differences to the western equivalents, trying to understand how this came about. I also have an interest for Japanese art and design, whose roots can be derived from some of the artifacts on show. For example, the style of drawing seen in many Japanese manga is surprising similar to that of the face guards on the suits of armour that are up to 300 years old. I like the idea that by looking at these exhibits you can begin to see how an aesthetic style has developed over the years.