Alexandra Hyde wonders about the enduring relevance of postmodernism as a cultural sensibility, even as it is presented in its pre-digital prime.

This weekend I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 (24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012).



There’s something about seeing Jean-Paul Goude’s iconic shot of Grace Jones deconstructed as a process of photocollage that sums up the kind of double-take this exhibition provokes. Because recognisable on the shiny surface or the fractured underside of the things on display here (and often the surface and what’s underneath amount to the same thing), is the currency in which we still trade today. Altered imagery, consumption, fragmented truths, multiple subjectivities, hybridity, bricolage. Except that now, in the form of the internet, we have the perfect double-edged vehicle for it, from citizen media to Ebay to Wikileaks. Are we all postmodern now?

More iconic photos and details about Jean-Paul Goude’s methods here.

NY Times on postmodernism’s timely yet ambiguous relevance here.

Review of the exhibition by Adrian Searle in the Guardian here.