Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to the 80s

'The 80s Are Back' Exhibition Poster

I am a child of the vibrant, quirky decade of 1980s. While a few years ago I looked back with shame on the fashions and music of this decade, now it seems enough time has lapsed for the years of big hair and shoulder pads to become subject for nostalgia and fun for all ages. The curators the exhibition ‘The 80s Are Back’, held at Sydney Powerhouse Museum, had just this nostalgia in mind when they planned this fun show, currently running at the Muesum.

From the moment I made my way down the Perspex-covered, neon lit walkway; complete with strains of ‘Karma Chameleon’ and ‘Thriller’ in the background, I new I was in for some fun! The exhibition celebrates popular culture of the 80s, with a strong Australian emphasis. You can see snippets of ‘Neighbours’ and clothes worn by the shows stars, including Kylie Minogue, and the jacket worn by INXS frontman Michael Hutchins.

The 80s were a time of playing video games and disco dancing, each of which have a strong presence in the exhibition. Lots of kids (and adults) were having lots of fun playing video arcade games that were dotted around the exhibition. Having the activities alongside the exhibits contributed to the energetic, fun feel of the show. You can even dance in cube shaped mock disco. I watched as numerous exhibition goers (many with their young children and claiming disbelief at having lived through the decade)rocked away to strains of 80s pop tunes under the neon lights. If only I had remembered my leg warmers…

80s 'Red Robin' Active Leisure Wear, photo Bruno Bernini
I loved the fashion displays of ‘The 80s Are Back’! Examples of frilly rah-rah skirts, onesies (they have come back in fashion recently) and the women’s powers suit made me think that the fashion wasn’t all bad back then, though I do hope that shoulder pads never come back into fashion.

Speaking of design, on show are some example of quirky 80s furniture. Eclectic designs by the Memphis and Alessi design groups embody the emphasis on pastiche and excess that characterise the decade. The thought of looking at these in your home would probably give most people a headache, but they fit right in with this exhibition. The only thing is deciphering what exactly the pieces are meant to be, and what to do with them!

Ettore Sottsass for Memphis Designs, 'Carlton' Roomdivider, 1981, Powerhouse Museum

One of my favourite parts of this fun exhibition was a display of a teenage girls bedroom. I’m sure that many of the thirty something in the crowd (and there were a lot of them) had memories of watching ‘Footloose’ and reading dolly come flooding back when looking at the bedroom, complete with cassette tapes and even a ‘Dirty Dancing’ poster on the wall.

‘The 80s Are Back’ is one the best exhibitions I have seen in years! I spent hours making my way through the numerous displays. Entry to the exhibition comes free with the general entrance fee ($10 for adults, $6 for concessions). The powerhouse Museum is in Ultimo, Sydney, right near Darling Harbour, and is open every day from 10am-5pm. It is set to run until late this year. For more information, and to see more great pictures from the exhibition including the ones shown here, check out the website;


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