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Glam Mania

Glam was always more than a visual style and can be meaningfully understood as an attitude or state of mind, its expression inseparable from its cultural and societal context. Exploding across Britain during the early 1970s, glam marked a gear change in British society. It brought about a heightened sense of self-awareness and self-identity, enabled not least by the costumed one-upmanship of glam rock performances disseminated widely through the ritualised weekly viewing of Top of the Pops.

While investigating the phenomenon of pop fandom, this room also shows how glam emblematised social shifts. In the wake of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, glam rock stars, principally David Bowie, offered new possibilities for gender identity. Displaying a stark contrast to early 1970s austerity, the decadence of glam drew worried comparisons with the cabaret culture of 1930s Berlin. Derek Boshier’s film Reel 1973 uses the notion of social and economic change being at odds with popular culture as a structural device, interspersing glam and fashion iconography with footage highlighting the rise of the political far right in 1970s Britain.

The display is augmented by a selection of magazines and posters that reveal the myriad ways in which images and styles can traverse art and social life through saturation of the popular media.