20 Years of Dazed and Confused

Braving the gales and passing the merry ice skaters on the way, GDP folk went to see the retrospective exhibition of the magazine Dazed and Confused at Somerset House in London this week. This show-cases the twenty years of the super-trendy publication, which was started by Jefferson Hack and the photographer, Rankin. On display were page spreads attached to large mirror blocks, magazine covers in light-boxes, posters and original artworks by the likes of Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman. Fashion designers featured included Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. All of this was set against the elegant Terrace rooms of the eighteenth century building, helping to give it a feel of opulence and glamour.

The show was also curated by Hack, which probably accounts for the areas of wacky display, such as the room in which you can immerse yourself in giant, cropped photographs and the use of diagonals for displaying the pages. Original artworks and the page spreads still hold their own and seem contemporary even now. But the painfully aware fashion and celebrity photography did look dated. Anyone who might have seen the Post Modern exhibition at the V&A recently could make links with the relentlessly cool, witty and chaotic pieces from the last few decades. The decadence of some of the photos  looked out of place in the current hard times of recession. But still, this is a look back at the past and it is interesting to see how attitudes change. The design of the page spreads still look eye-catching and could inspire any current students of design.

The area of the show that still looked brightest and most up-to-date was the room of projected images of models with prosthetic limbs. These haunting photos capture both the beauty and power of the models as well as having an ethereal melancholy. They were a 1998 collaboration by McQueen and photographer Nick Knight. These were originally published almost a decade and a half ago and predate the recent positive media coverage of paralympic athletes.

The free show, subtitled Making It Up As We Go Along will be at Somerset House until 29th January. So if you are in the area and you like magazine design, fashion or photography this will be of interest to you.

More info at http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/dazed-and-confused-magazine.

The Graphic Design Project has several projects related to magazine layout, including our getting-started projects, Celebration and Structures, as well as This Place. See the Our Projects page for information.

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