The Institute of Contemporary Art have gone slightly rogue this September and
October; they are currently exhibiting thirty years worth of London subculture at
the Old Selfridges Hotel.
The Old Selfridges Hotel is actually in the same building as the Selfridges we all
know and love (you enter through a staircase adjacent to the food hall entrance).
The abandoned part of the building is open-plan, unfurnished, and its ceiling
is strewn with pipes. This derelict interior, contrasted with the posh, pristine
exterior of Selfridges, makes the perfect transgressive setting for an exploration
The various artists commissioned by the ICA to produce an insight into London’s
underground world in the last thirty years have used different mediums for their
contribution. Most artists filled a vitrine with memorabilia from the subversive
worlds of fashion, clubbing, music, and art. Some of my personal favourites focused
on the crazy clubbing of the eighties, including photos and posters of people
with giant hair, colourful clothes, and insane make-up. Why wasn’t I alive in the
Other artists had opted to make videos, which I have to admit went right over my
head (this art was slightly too contemporary for me…) – it was just a lot of noise
that seemed to make no sense whatsoever in relation to what was on the screen.
I spent a pretty long time in that abandoned room somewhere in the labyrinth
that is Selfridges. I would recommend it to anyone in that area of London; it’s
free and interesting, though prepare yourself to be completely jealous of how fun life
was in the eighties, especially for the cool subversive hipsters.