You know you are getting old, when the art and culture of your youth has now circled round again. The vibrancy and innovation of the 1980′s and 90′s have returned, with ‘Sweet Harmony: Rave Today’ at the Saatchi Gallery, and now ‘New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976-1995′ at Spruth Magers in Mayfair, an exhibition curated by Michael Bracewell.
The first gallery sets the theme of the exhibition. Four monitors which now look quite antique and feel as if they are from the 1970′s (is there a warehouse that stocks these old monitors?) are showing flickering videos that are in fact some of the newest works here, from the 1990′s, by Angus Fairhurst, Gary Hume, Damien Hirst & Angus Fairhurst and Sam Taylor-Johnson. They also represent the end of an era, as we have since moved into expansive inclusive digital productions – these videos, only 20 years old, could be from another age and indeed in terms of technology they are.
Upstairs, one of the newer works from 1989-2010 is one of Damien Hirst’s trademark medicine cabinets – ‘Satellite’, brings back memories of Damien Hirst and Matthew Freud’s restaurant ‘Pharmacy’, which was the place to go and be seen at in Notting Hill, from 1997 until it sadly closed in 2003 having fallen out of fashion with the cool crowd, and now reincarnated in a smaller more-café like form as Pharmacy 2 at the Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall.
Here too is Richard Hamilton’s ‘Diab DS-101 computer’, the size of a filing cabinet in the 1980′s but today probably the size of Peter Saville’s album cover ‘Blue Monday’, albums themselves having disappeared and returned over the last 40 years, while in the basement Gillian Wearing reminds us of the fashions of that era while she dances in a shopping centre in Peckham in 1994. Shopping centres were then the cathedrals of commercialism and there was no stopping their growth across the country. How many of the retailers you can glimpse in Wearing’s video will survive the huge turmoil that is happening in the high street as the shops empty and the rents collapse? Society is changing, as we buy less, use the internet more and lead more sustainable lives, though the shopping centre owners, economists and financiers are not happy.
Also on show are Richard Hamilton’s gentle misty landscapes and photographs by Karen Knorr and Olivier Richion of the punk scene in the 1970′s and, at the opposite extreme, Knorr’s photographs of the polite, sophisticated, controlling, wealthy environment and people of Belgravia, along with fascinating quotes by the people captured in the photographs. The individuals may have moved on, and technology may have changed, but some of the same characteristics have continued into the 21st century.
In a related exhibition, photographic collages by Astrid Klein from the same era, continue the theme.
The one thing that was missing was the music.