New Punk exhibition opens in Hayward Gallery
Opening today in London’s Hayward Gallery on the South Bank, new exhibition Some Day All The Adults Will Die! takes a look at the DIY punk subculture of the 70s and 80s.
From September 14th to November 4th, you are welcome to walk the upper level of the gallery and view the ephemera of a powerful, anarchic age of youthful and individual rebellion that still affects us to this day.
Linked to the book Punk: An Aesthetic, the focus is heavily on the DIY, self-published, cut and paste nature of the movement, including hastily written manifestos, Crass stencils, spray paint and torn posters. We see how artists reappropriated commercial album sleeves for their own underground, home-made endeavours. There’s something deeply energetic and inspiring to see these items of underground, budgetless calls to arms that would come to shape a generation, and have lingering effects to this day.
The message was very much ‘if you can think it, you can do it, and fuck anyone who tells you otherwise’.
There is something paradoxical about the clean lines, pristine glass and ordered presentation of this particular subject matter though. Being presented in the gallery in this manner produces a bizarre juxtaposition, not quite immersing yourself in the aesthetic but rather allowing you to coldly analyse it, a snapshot of a time and the zeitgeist thinking of a past era. It’s intriguing and informative, but one wonders if the anarchic lawlessness of punk was followed in the presentation if the viewer would not feel a stronger connection.
That said, there is a room playing classic punk, from small underground bands that would not be heard on Top of the Pops then, or VH1 now. The room is small and can get crowded, allowing the viewer to close their eyes as the loud noise of this rebellious age wash over them, shoulder to shoulder with other viewers. Here is where we have the truest immersion to the culture, as you mentally travel back in time to an age of destruction to create, and you learn that the aesthetic cannot survive without it’s sound.
From McLaren to Rotten, Blondie to Sex Pistols and everything in between, the exhibition allows for a retrospective at an age that can still live with us to this day, and spark the fire and imagination in generations new.
Some Day All The Adults Will Die! is held from September 14th to November 4th at the Hayward Gallery at London South Bank.
Words: Joe Glass