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Twenty Years Of Dazed And Confused

Flora Neighbour reviews the revolutionary magazine's retrospective, Making It Up As We Go Along

Written by . Published on November 9th 2011.

Twenty Years Of Dazed And Confused

AFTER some initial confusion on how to avoid a somewhat slippery entrance (with the current ice rink causing quite an obstacle), the public are greeted by the sheer magnificence of Somerset House. Home to many magnificent exhibitions over the years, this November the beautiful building is home to the ground-breaking images of Dazed and Confused magazine.

Mirrors have been integrated into the angular sculptures, which produce a rather voyeuristic sensation. Your face becomes a part of the exhibition, next to several famous faces, which have been established by the magazine.

The cult publication, exploded onto the style and culture scene back in 1991, under the watchful eye of Jefferson Hack and notorious photographer, Rankin. The free exhibition coincides with the publication of the book 20 Years of Dazed & Confused: Making It Up As We Go Along. The iconic bi-annual has become a stageset for many celebrities and artists to break into the public stratosphere. The exhibition, curated by Jefferson Hack and Emma Reeves, takes us back through two generations of inspiration and allows us to remember the innovative images, artwork and designs and revolutionary articles.

Upon entrance, the public are ushered through a narrow corridor lined with small, lit-up miniatures of the magazine covers from over the years. Not helped by the gloomy lighting, the corridor is somewhat daunting; could this really be the whole exhibition? After closer inspection, the viewer is able to understand that these glowing bands of images are ultimately paving the way towards many rooms, brimming with fresh and stimulating photographs.

Pulp - Rankin 1996Pulp - Rankin, 1996

Room one has an immediate fresh and youthful atmosphere in comparison to many other exhibitions that have been displayed at Somerset House. The room is laden with fantastic images, surrounding two large angular installations, which are very abstract, allowing the observer to view some of the photographs from various angles, literally and figuratively; perhaps creating new perspectives that many people have seen numerous times before.

Mirrors have been integrated into the angular sculptures, which produce a rather voyeuristic sensation. Your face becomes a part of the exhibition, next to several famous faces, which have been established by the magazine. One of the larger photographs that stood out was the Jarvis Cocker image, a super-imposed figure of the singer in a burger joint, named ‘Pulp, it’s a wrap’ by Rankin, 1996.

The image commissioned by Cocker himself, for seminal Britpop album, Different Class, shows the viewer the magazine’s affinity with the celebrated band. Another celebrity with a very close relationship to the founders is the model Kate Moss. Moss obviously played a huge part in the magazine’s success and as well as being the pin up for the exhibition, she also features numerous times. The iconic model’s photographs include ‘Instastella Overdrive’, Juergen Teller 1997, a more erotic image, made successful from the edgy, youthful and intelligent glossy.

Tie Dye Hair - Mark PillaiTie Dye Hair - Mark Pillai

Room two, aka ‘The Second Decade’, devotes the majority of its walls to that of the rich and famous, displaying photography which embraces celebrity culture, including images of Blondie, Beth Ditto, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Moss and the fake Michael Jackson, all by Rankin. The Michael Jackson image comments on celebrity culture  – a laugh in the face of reality, the artificial versus the tangible. Unsurprisingly, the public believed that the photograph was in fact the man himself. The silence of the exhibition emulates an eerie sensation. Faces peer down at you, beautiful and inspiring, leaving the viewer feeling slightly inadequate.

This sensation doesn’t relieve itself as the exhibition continues, with the next room appropriately titled ‘Scary Monsters, Super Creeps’. The room has colour bursting from every angle and is full of bold, brave imagery, including a series of chilling photographs, which feature terrified expressions and naked bodies covered in glitter. However, even these images are vibrant and innovative. The room is also a must-see as it includes the works of Mark Pillai and his photograph ‘Tie-dye Hair’, 2009.

‘Salo’, featuring art direction by the late Alexander McQueen and photography by Norbert Schoerner, is an extremely dark room. Again in the literal and figurative sense, it is almost cave-like, with large walls, positioned in strange angles around the room. The large feeling of insignificance expands within the small room, covered in huge images blown up, covering the walls, ceiling and floor, all images of bodies and food. Greeted by a dead pig lying on a pink fleshy arm was finally the dark edge the public are hoping for. The huge mirror on the ceiling creates that voyeuristic approach, allowing the viewer to leave the exhibition feeling almost smaller, yet invigorated.

Other revolutionary works included were by artists such as David Sims, Nick Night and Terry Richardson and specially selected designs from Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Gareth Pugh.

Somerset House                                                                    

November 4 2011-January 29 2012

Free Admission

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Corin JacksonNovember 9th 2011.

Sounds absolutely amazing. Especially the fun house mirrors. Genius.

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