Dazed & Confused @ Somerset House

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Dazed & Confused Magazine are staging an exhibition at Somerset House. The show documents the beginnings of the publication; from when Jefferson Hack and Ian Rankin first met, to the magazine today, in its third generation.

Launched in 1991, London, two years before I was born, Dazed & Confused was an underground hit. It was at the forefront of fashion, art, music and youth culture; tackling topical issues and offering a fresh and alternative perspective. The exhibition, which is set in five rooms, shows the chronological journey of the magazine, with the final two rooms housing installations inspired by the late Alexander McQueen, a faithful supporter of the magazine.

Curated by Jefferson Hack and Emma Reeves, the exhibition which accompanies the book ‘Making It Up As We Go Along’, published by Rizzoli, is compact and minimalistic. There is a lack of words, explanations are kept to a minimum. The images are left to do the talking, and they certainly have something to say. Never afraid to shy away from the controversial, Dazed & Confused has previously captured images portraying the elderly and models giving blood. There is a stress on photography, which in itself is stunningly beautiful, many of the editorials on show are works of art in their own right, and there is very much a strong focus on the visual aspect of the artwork of the magazine. The most infamous photo shoots are displayed in three dimensional, mirrored, L-shaped structures, designed by Jack Flanagan, housing decadent images, in a way in which one could only expect Dazed to do.

The inclusion of McQueen’s ideas shows the magazines loyalty to its followers, whilst recognizing the immense talent of the late designer and his contribution to the fashion world. These ideas also followed on from Flanagan’s structures in the other rooms, offering more mirrors and three-dimensional objects. All of Dazed’s iconic covers were on show, and it was interesting to see how my favourite magazine has evolved over three decades, beginning its life before I begun mine.

Despite being in my eyes, an unusual setting for a magazine like Dazed & Confused, the exhibition offers its readers an unconventional glimpse into the last 20 years, whilst keeping them on their toes as it continues its life in the next chapter.

Dazed & Confused – Making It Up As We Go Along is open at the Terrace Rooms of Somerset House until January 29

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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