The ICA has opened a major exhibition. It’s in a derelict building, because major art events are supposed to be in old industrial buildings. It’s also the Old Selfridges Hotel, because that particular department store likes doing arty things.

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It is a look at the artistic sub-culture from the 1980s through to today.

I may have misread the description, as I thought it was a photographic exhibition, but it is not.

Apparently the photos are there, but I didn’t see them. The rest is a collection of vitrines — which a dictionary tells me is a glass topped display case.

The problem is that it is also utterly baffling.

Is this an exhibition to show off the cultural explosion of the 1980s and 90s? If so, it fails miserably.

We have a collection of display cases, each with a difficult to read white text on glass lid description. A description, that if you can read it without bobbing your head around to avoid the glare from the light bulbs above, tells you nothing about the people or event being displayed.

Here are some flyers for an event, over there are some leaves and flowers, another case has some magazine cuttings, another has tiny photographic slides.

You are told who did the thing, and who they did the thing with.

No where does it explain what the thing was, why it is significant, or why the people did the whatever it is that they did.

You have fifty blobs of abstract art. And that is all you have. In a fashionable setting.

If you want an art exhibition of meaningless art, then this is good. If you want an insight into the sub-culture of the past three decades, don’t bother.

The exhibition, A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s to Now is open daily until the 20th October.

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One comment
  1. Paul London says:

    Agree with you totally Ian – I only had time for a quick whizz around (your initial listing said it closed at 8pm I think, not 6 – not a criticism – these things happen – wonderful blog/events list you have) but the artists in the “vitrines” (! – poncy description of theirs for a start) seemed to this admittedly art-uneducated bod mostly to be self indulgent pseudo rebels. Many of who have maybe now gone all corporate.

    The only really interesting thing I saw was some pics from the 70s showing Boy George in some photographic stagey tableaux (oh – the vitrine getting to me!) shot in a squat in Goodge Street.

    Thanks for your honest review of the event.

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