The current exhibition at the Tropenmuseum, The Sixties – A worldwide happening, offers playful insights into the 60s in the West, as well as Asia and Africa. Even though they were politically turbulent years, cultural life flourished and people were liberated like never before. The last point can especially be seen in the Tropenmuseum. Or is it not just perfectly balanced?
Upon entering, the exhibition springs to life with life-sized dolls and objects, arranged in a playful manner. Where shall we begin? I was free to choose my own route, probably as a sort of consequence of the emerging postmodernism of this still somewhat chaotic decade.
The 60s played out with the background of WWII, decolonization and the Cold War. Independence for countries in Africa and Asia represented a search for their own culture and identity. On the other hand, in the West there were protests against the Cold War and capitalism was expressed through posters, slogans and music. Despite their differences, east and west found inspiration and refuge in each other. Western influences seeped through to the eastern culture, and eastern spirituality, free drug use and new fashion styles fed the so-called hippie period.
The 60s were a period of liberation, unending creativity and also technological advancement, and this exhibition represents just that. The background and causes of this cultural phenomenon remain largely unexplored. It is difficult to assess how the young of today and the unknowledgeable visitor will experience the exhibition, and if they will really notice the playful side of it. Go see for yourself and enjoy. As John Lennon once said: ‘Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.’
The Sixties – A worldwide happening was shown in the Tropenmuseum until March 13th.