Spring 2018 the world’s first Pink Floyd exhibition is taking place in Dortmund. Dortmund is the only city in the German-speaking world and the Benelux countries where the exhibition is shown. Visitors are expecting a multimedial hearing and visual journey into the Pink Floyd cosmos.
On May 13, 2017, the first Pink Floyd exhibition opens in London: “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains”. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Her Mortal Remains. The exhibition runs from 13 May to 1 October at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Edwin Jacobs, director of Dortmund U, has taken the first international retrospective of one of the world’s most influential music bands to Dortmund, where she is shown on the 6th floor of Dortmund U.
The visitors are expecting a multimedial hearing and visual journey into the band’s 50-year history and an exclusive insight into the Pink Floyd cosmos – the music and the instruments, the visual design of the albums and the stage design The tours and performances. In the process, the visitors follow the workings of the band and their transformation – from the psychedelic rock group in the 1960s to one of the most commercially successful bands.
The Dortmund U
The Dortmunder U is a cultural center with international appeal and the most impressive building in Dortmund. It was built in 1926/27 as the first high-rise building and beer factory of the Union Brewery. Crowned with a light pyramid, the ferry and warehouse was one of the most modern buildings at that time. Since 2010 the Dortmunder U with its unique installation is a center for art, culture and creativity. The U is one of the youngest and most innovative houses in Germany, about 70 per cent of the guests are under 50 years. Last year the Dortmund U was awarded the “European Cultural Brand of the Year”.
Pigs fly at the Victoria & Albert Museum, alongside sheep, replica warplanes, exploding fridges and UFOs, while a giant psychotic inflatable headmaster descends from the ceiling wielding his cane over a huge purple replica of Battersea Power Station. Like the band it celebrates, Their Mortal Remains certainly does not lack ambition.
Visitors enter through a replica of a touring van, advance down a psychedelic rabbit hole of swirling op art and emerge into a dazzling space of hard reflective surfaces and audacious installations. Room after room is packed with a veritable treasure trove of artefacts and information about one of Britain’s most innovative and revered rock bands. You can walk through album sleeves, remix classic tracks, peer closely at lyric notebooks and vintage instruments, all the while listening to the band and their collaborators articulate the creative steps behind some of the most astonishing music and iconic imagery of the rock era.
Imaginatively conceived, fascinatingly curated, beautifully designed and stunningly realised, the Pink Floyd exhibition is something of an audio-visual tour de force for a museum that has become adept at putting pop culture in a highbrow gallery space. If, ultimately, it does not have the revelatory impact and intense personality of the V&A’s ground-breaking David Bowie Is exhibition in 2013, that is perhaps inherent in the nature of an oddly faceless band. As the joke used to go, “Which one’s Pink?”
There is an absence that haunted Floyd throughout their career, and haunts this exhibition too. Their 1975 masterpiece Wish You Were Here is evoked in a shiny, square, white space filled with images of the cryptic album sleeve. The warmth and beauty of the music itself plays second fiddle here to the contributions of Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson and his Hipgnosis design team.
In a glass cabinet, however, you can find one small Polaroid of a plump, bald, unassuming fellow, which close examination reveals to be founding member Syd Barrett visiting Abbey Road Studio unannounced as the band recorded their spine-tingling tribute to him (and Wish You Were Here’s opening and closing track), Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Barrett was Floyd’s only real rock star, the maverick genius who set them off on their extraordinary trajectory, but whose contribution was cut short by psychosis (exacerbated by drug use). He is affectionately recalled on one wall display but, without him, the rest of the exhibition is beset by a peculiar lack of human focus.
The core four piece line up from 1968-1985 (guitarist-vocalist David Gilmour, bassist-vocalist Roger Waters, keyboard player Rick Wright and drummer Nick Mason) were all middle-class, educated, intelligent, accomplished musicians. Their inventive use of sound technology, explorative approach to avant-garde musical ideas and astute incorporation of wider artistic, social, philosophical and theatrical concepts made them key figures in the psychedelic explosion (and its progressive rock offshoots), but they were not particularly psychedelic in themselves.
Interrogated on short, three-minute films accompanying each exhibit, they tend to be quite dry and dispassionate, creating a very cool and cerebral mood, with the madder and more enigmatic aspects of Floyd conjured by emphasising sleeve and stage designs.
Also, it may be stating the obvious to say that music is vital to the Pink Floyd story, but this exhibition would be much diminished as a walking tour without the Bluetooth headphones bringing static installations to musical life. While it is a treat to walk through a darkened corridor illuminated by a holographic representation of the pyramid prism from Dark Side of the Moon, it is still the swirling keyboards and cosmic lead solo that really blow the mind.
As it is, the exhibition fades off into empty spectacle towards the close, suffering much the same fate as Pink Floyd’s career. It is hard not to conclude that chief lyricist Roger Waters was right, and that Floyd should have ended when he left in 1985. The spikiest character in the band, Waters apparently insisted that Floyd’s remaining years as a touring and recording heritage act be kept separate, in this show, from their imperial Sixties and Seventies phase. But the result is three later rooms featuring recreations of overblown cover and stage designs that lack any intellectual rigour or artistic purpose, effectively a monument to a band who had by then become a monument to themselves.
There is, however, one final act of grace in a concert experience room at the very end, where you can see and hear the briefly reunited Pink Floyd’s valedictory performance of Comfortably Numb at Live8 in 2005, delivered in Sennheiser surround sound. It is absolutely gobsmacking, putting you right in the centre of one of the greatest pieces of music ever performed. Wish you were there? You will feel like you were.
Flying pigs inspired by Pink Floyd’s Animals will obscure Chicago’s Trump Tower for one glorious day this summer Roger Waters himself signed off on the design.
Inspired by Pink Floyd’s famous Battersea flying pig, an architect is working to relieve commuters of having to see our President’s name emblazoned on the side of Chicago’s Trump Tower, which looms over the Loop as a constant reminder of our country’s current state. The solution? Four flying, gold-colored pigs, strategically placed to obscure Trump’s name.
Architect Jeffrey Roberts first announced “Flying Pigs on Parade” back in November and it’s now queued up for a tentative launch this summer. According to Architectural Digest, each pig will measure 30-feet by 15-feet and be tethered to a barge on the Chicago River. The pigs will fly for just a single day, but Roberts plans to take them around to other Trump-infested cities throughout the country.
“In 1977 Pink Floyd rendered their musical interpretation of the allegory into the concept album Animals in response to social-political conditions in late-70’s Britain,” Roberts writes on the project’s website. “Like Orwell’s book, the interpretive messages of Animals have unfortunately become highly relevant again.”
As he holds the image rights, Roger Waters himself needed to sign off on Roberts’ re-appropriation, which he was apparently happy to do.
“The art folly has been created to provide visual relief to the citizens of Chicago by interrupting the view of the ostentatious Trump Tower Chicago sign,” Roberts says. “The design follows rigorous rationale in providing layers of meaning but ultimately allows for interpretation by individual viewers.”
“Ultimately,” he continues, “this is a very rational design and is in direct contrast to the chaotic nature and bizarre antics of our current leadership.”
On Monday, May 8, Roger Waters will stop by the Ed Sullivan Theater to be the musical guest on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
The former Pink Floyd bassist appearance comes ahead of the release of his newest studio album Is This The Life We Really Want?, and his upcoming North American Tour. Is This The Life We Really Want?, Waters’ fifth solo album and his first of original material since 1992’s Amused To Death, will be released on June 2 via Columbia Records.
Waters is set to kick off his lengthy Us + Them Tour later this month on May 26 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, which he promises will “be a mixture of stuff from my long career, stuff from my years with Pink Floyd, some new things. Probably 75% of it will be old material and 25% will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme. It will be a cool show, I promise you. It’ll be spectacular like all my shows have been.”