Postmodernism is the notoriously slippery subject tacked by the V&A’s exhibition, ‘Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990’. This fast-paced film features some of the most important living Postmodern practitioners, Charles Jencks, Robert A M Stern and Sir Terry Farrell among them, and asks them how and why Postmodernism came about, and what it means to be Postmodern.
Andrew Logan: Post modernism – yes, I still really don’t understand what post modernism is. I’ve been told many times and it’s been explained to me many times and I still am bewildered. But perhaps that’s part of the movement – bewilderment.
Malcolm Garrett: I don’t think I really know too much about what post modernism actually is. For me, it’s primarily an architectural movement.
Robert A M Stern: Post modernism was a kind of style and it was kind of outrageous style at that.
Zandra Rhodes: I think we’re originals, but it wasn’t until I got spoken to by the V&A that I thought about anything that was post modern.
The way I worked I described as retrievalism.
Charles Jencks: The Independent said do use the word ‘post modernism’ because it means absolutely nothing and everything.
Malcolm Garrett: I called myself a new futurist for a while. So that’s a term I would use rather than post modernism.
Andrew Logan: Well, I suppose I had a very post modernist occurrence – I took acid. Normal things suddenly turned into something extraordinary.
Zandra Rhodes: Well, in 1977 punk was just starting to happen and I thought why not do tears that actually look like tears and then got safety pins and beaded round them like 12 years before Versace.
Malcolm Garrett: I had access to the first photocopier and I was able to modify and change the look of the image using a photocopier.
Peter Saville: And, of course, in the 70s and into the 80s the record cover was this incredibly important, vital medium of visual information. There were the music papers and occasionally the Sunday Times colour supplement might just do something about Andy Warhol in New York and that would be about it.
Paula Scher: In the 70s when I first started designing there was a predominance of the international style where the ultimate goal was to be clean and I always felt that that was like trying to clean up your room. So I was looking for ways of designing typography that could be more expressive, that were not about creating order but were about creating spirit.
Robert A M Stern: Times Square was where we were in charge – the whole revitalisation of Times Square is a very interesting, complicated story, but it does show the difference between the modernist point of view of how to redevelop or to develop a city and what we were able to do …
Charles Jencks: Post modern architecture is really to do with pluralism. You’ll find its depth, all of the great post modernism, the philosophy and now in literature, is about pluralism, pluralism, pluralism.
Robert A M Stern: To say, no, no, it’s a mess, in fact we ought to make it more of a mess. The world comes to Times Square not for tidykins, but for mess.
Charles Jencks: It’s accepting that the modern world with Freud, Marx, Henry Ford, mass production, is positive, but it can be radically improved.
Robert A M Stern: We studied the signage in Times Square and then we set minimums, minimums for sizes of signs, minimums for brightness of signs. What we were legislating in a way the capitalist impulse. Once you tell an entrepreneur that his or her sign can only be this big, he will be satisfied, he will agree with it. But if you say it can be this big or bigger or brighter, well everybody wants to compete in a capitalist society.
Charles Jencks: So you have to be on the one hand ironic about failures, probably the beginning of a new depression, another crisis of modernism, modernisation, modernity. What’s going to get us out of this? We have to re-think the modern movements in all the arts and in society and post modernism is the umbrella term for re-thinking.
Robert A M Stern: We knew 42nd Street was an incredible success when the Consolidated Edison Company called the State of New York and said, you know our grid is zapped out.
Peter Saville: In the case of, particularly, Joy Division and then New Order, they could never exactly agree amongst themselves. There was no hierarchical structure, particularly in New Order after the end of Joy Division, after Ian Curtis had died. The responsibility for the covers came to me and so they were about what I was interested in, they were about in a way beginning to learn the canon.
Carol McNicoll: The thing that I was doing was I was using slip casting. A lot of the Leach tradition and minimalist things also had that idea of expressing the deep, inner, mystic qualities of clay. And I thought that was a load of complete rubbish. And I thought what was wonderful about clay was the fact that you could make it look like anything else.
V&Aの展覧会「Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990」に合わせて収録された、ポストモダニズムの実践者たちへのインタビュー集。チャールズ・ジェンクス、ロバート・A・M・スターン、ザンドラ・ローズ、ピーター・サヴィルなど。