A Journey Through London’s Subculture: 1980s to Now, ICA Off-Site

A Journey Through London’s Subculture: 1980s to Now at the Old Selfridges Hotel in London is part of the ICA’s Off-Site summer series, which started with Glastonbury Festival. The exhibition illustrates a perceived thread of creativity between the post-punk era and the present day – a legacy that underpins London’s incredible creative potential in the present. Taking over the first floor of the hotel, the project will bring together up to 60 influential figures from London’s creative scene from the 1980s to the present, spanning art, design, architecture, fashion, club culture and food. Participants include Tom Dixon, Zaha Hadid, Nicola Tyson, Bodymap, Sarah Lucas, Giles Deacon, Julie Verhoeven, Matthew Darbyshire, Louise Gray, SIBLING, David Waddington and Pablo Flack (Bistroteque), Bethan Laura Wood and Lucky PDF.

Making connections between London’s creative past and the present day, A Journey Through London’s Subculture: 1980s to Now examines the links between cultural phenomena such as the YBA’s and DIY culture, looking at specific individuals such as Alexander McQueen, Leigh Bowery, David Robilliard and many others. Questions are asked such as, in design terms, was Ron Arad’s “Concrete Sound” hi-fi equipment connected to the salvage work of Andy The Furniture Maker, and from there might we connect to Martino Gamper’s reassembled chairs or the designs of Bethan Laura Wood? Can we extend the social influence of former nightclubs to artist collective LuckyPDF, or bars and venues like Vogue Fabrics and Cafe OTO?

The exhibition deploys over fifty vitrines, alongside video works, installations and billboard-sized images. The timeline set by this project spans the moment when 1980s counterculture would arguably enter the mainstream and the London underground scene, ravaged by AIDS, would eventually be co-opted by a rising tide of commercialisation. In illustrating the path taken by London’s alternative scene the project explores counterculture today and what emerging artists have in common to the influences before them.

Part of the project will include installations of work by SIBLING, Lucky PDF, Cafe OTO, Matthew Darbyshire and Haroon Mirza. In addition there will be films screened on monitors throughout the space by artists including Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, Bonnie Camplin, James Richards, Dick Jewell, donAteller and John Maybury.

A Journey Through London’s Subculture: 1980s to Now, 13 September – 20 October, Old Selfridges Hotel, 1 Orchard Street, W1H 6JS.

1. Mudlarking, Judy Blame and John Moore mudlarking under Blackfriars Bridge in 1983, courtesy Nicola Tyson.