On Friday night, I took advantage of the late night opening of the V&A to visit ‘Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism‘. This is a precursor to the V&A’s autumn/winter blockbuster: ‘Postmodernism: style and subversion 1970 to 1990’ which opens at the end of this week.
I’ve never been very sure of my understanding of the term ‘postmodernism’ and this small exhibition has been a big help. I learnt that the characteristics of postmodern work include:
- irony or humour
- references to the work’s own mode of production
- investigations of originality and authorship
- enquiries into the nature of representation.
- quotation, parody or appropriation to draw attention to the conventions and limitations of different forms of representation
- self-conscious combination of nature and artifice
- the staging or artificial construction of scenes to be photographed.
- images cut from their original contexts and ‘re-purposed’ for different meanings
- echoes of the ornamentation present in postmodern architecture.
- Clare Strand’s sequence of apparently old ‘crime scene’ record photographs complete with dubious markings and references
- Jeff Wall’s staged ‘The Outburst’
- David Shrigley’s ‘Carrots’
- Peter Kennard’s ‘Haywain with Cruise Missiles’.