You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 And The Signifying Practices


On Monday 9th of January, we went to the V&A to see the exhibition called ‘You say you want a revolution?’. There were some aspects of my subculture in this exhibition mostly to do with the music, however the exhibition wasn’t about specific subcultures it was about change and how everyone had the right to be unique and express themselves. In the exhibition you could see the develop and the progressive change through the mid 60’s to the 70’s.

They way the exhibition worked was you were given headphones, which was linked to a system where when you moved around the museum the music and sound changed to suit the curtain part of the exhibition. Going through the exhibition it was easy to spot different signifying practices from different subcultures and eras. The different subcultures that I noticed at the 60’s exhibition was Hippies, Psychedelics and Mods. With the Hippies the signifying practices that I was able to see from the exhibition was that they wore much more natural clothing with usually political meaning. They were very interested in the middle east (india and Afghanistan) meaning they would wear similar clothes or dress in the same style.They were more aware and interested in politics, usually wore no make up and had long hair (both men and women). The Psychedelics, although they looked quite similar to the Hippies, however their meaning and ethics were very different. I learnt that they were more urban and it was all about fashion not for political vale (unlike the Hippies). They were happy to wear plastic boots, bags, dresses etc. They music they would listen was more electric guitar where as Hippies would have an acoustic guitar. However one thing that these subcultures had in common was that drugs were a main focus of their group. They were rebelling and embracing the future.

Another subculture that I saw at the exhibition were the mods, even though it wasn’t as noticeable. There wasn’t so much men but more women. The typical signifying practices of a male mod of the sixties was Italian tailored suits, green parka which was to stop their expensive suits getting dirty from driving scooters. The mods were  all about fashion, not so much about politics they were working class trying to be middle or upper class who were just rebelling against society not wanting to be like their parents. The girl mods however are harder to distinguish as they didn’t stand out as much as they men. The girls looked a lot like the model ‘Twiggy’. They had very short hair almost like a bob and really big eyelashes with a lot of eye makeup. They again were more about the fashion and the way they looked unlike the hippies.

Going around the exhibition we learnt a lot about the politics of the sixties and the general history. Towards the end of the exhibition I got the idea that the youth of the sixties had a sense of hope and change for the future however the video at the end of the exhibition showed that the future they had hoped for never happen which actually I found quite sad. Also to add to the emotion was the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon.

This had helped with the development of my project, it has shown me what life was like for teenagers and young adults in the mid 60’s. Looking at some existing advertisement and posters of that era has given me ideas and inspired me with my own project, also looking at artists books (which will feature in the next post) gave me ideas for layout etc.


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