The scent of Flower Power is in the air at ING Art Center, which will be hosting the exhibition Revolutions – Records & Rebels – 1966-1970 from 24 October onwards. This covers the ideals, aspirations, dreams and thirst for freedom as well as the activism and anti-establishment protests of the late 1960s.
These cultural, social, artistic and technological revolutions, which all took place between 1966 and 1970, have shaped our current lifestyles and still have an impact on how we look to the future today.
This unique social and cultural context is presented with the aid of some 350 symbolic objects from the spheres of fashion, music, design, graphic design and photography. What's more, during the tour, Sennheiser headphones (the specialist in AMBEO technology providing a 3D sound experience) will surround visitors with classics from artists including The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Janis Joplin. Through these snatches of music and videos, which will put the exhibits in their proper context, visitors will enjoy a truly immersive experience.
Originally conceived by the Victoria and Albert Museum, this exhibition kicked off in London before going on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal and Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan. For its Belgian incarnation, ING Art Center has adapted the content by delving into topics relating specifically to Belgian history. Consequently, Louvain's student protests, Jazz Bilzen and the Amougies Festival, regarded as the first European Woodstock, will also feature in the exhibition (incidentally, the photo of Frank Zappa that appears on the exhibition poster was taken at the Amougies Festival).
The tour will explore several themes: the Swinging Sixties, the counterculture, consumer habits, protests and rebellion, festivals as well as the emergence of communities, information technology and environmental movements.
- Visitors will be invited to travel through the Swinging Sixties, which fashion and music influence one another and boutiques on Carnaby Street become the epicentre of the new "youthquake" culture.
- The counterculture, characterised by staunch opposition to conservatism and authoritarianism, proposed alternative lifestyles and gave rise to anti-establishment protests. The psychedelic movement, which means "mind manifesting", invaded society.
- The new accessibility of credit revolutionised consumer habits. At the same time, the advertising industry grew in leaps and bounds. Mass design and technological progress were revealed to the world. The broadcasting on television of landmark events, such as the first man on the moon, brought international news into the home.
- Across borders, protests and rebellion spread, political activists fought for civil rights and young people stood together in solidarity. In many countries, critics of US imperialism protested against the Vietnam War. Che Guevara became iconic among a youth eager for non-aligned countries to assert themselves. Political activists and anti-establishment protesters were out inthe streets. In the United States, the Black Panthers, "gay liberation" and the women's movement were part of the same struggle for minorities to achieve equal civil rights.
- Alongside these protests, student uprisings soared in number. In Belgium, the Leuven Vlaams movement caused the break-up of KULeuven and the creation of the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. In Paris, student occupations and protests against capitalism and the consumer society culminated in the general strike of May 1968.
- In the late 1960s, music festivals became the blueprint for a revolutionary way of coming together that enabled their participants to exemplify their vision of a communitarian and permissive society. The Newport Folk Festival, the Isle of Wight Festival and Woodstock, here brought up as a fully immersive audiovisual experience were all examples of this.
- The West Coast of America became the birthplace of alternative communities that cared about the environment and had a utopian vision of progress that would go on to form the basis for the development of information technology.
Highlights among the extraordinary items and documents on display in this exhibition include the outfit worn by John Lennon on the album sleeve of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the hand-written lyrics to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, several documents relating to Woodstock, an electric guitar belonging to Jimi Hendrix (used by his old friend Larry Lee, who played alongside him at Woodstock), a range of garments from leading designers synonymous with the retail culture of 1960s London, including Mary Quant, Jeff Banks, the tailor Blades and Ossie Clark (who designed a jumpsuit for Mick Jagger), and a paving stone from the Sorbonne removed during the 1968 student uprising.
The 1960s still provoke heated discussions today. As the British music critic and author Ian MacDonald put it, the "real revolution of the 1960s (…) was an inner revolution of feeling and assumption: a revolution in the head". A generation proclaimed their ideals not just by imagining a better future, but by building it.
You will find all practical information on ing.be/arts.
This exhibition was created by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which also produced the exhibitions "David Bowie is" and "Pink Floyd – Their Mortal Remains". It has been adapted and enhanced for ING Art Center by Patricia De Peuter and Anne Petre.
Scenography: Pièce Montée, Ghent