We’re all part of a tribe. Within minutes of chatting to people at the Horniman Museum’s new exhibition about how people dress and present themselves, we were deep in a discussion about hipsters, north vs south London and how the area we live is absolutely the best.
This isn’t quite the tangent you might think. The Horniman might be best known for its anthropological collection (and walrus) but this exhibition combines displays of ear plugs, feather headdresses and beaded Plains Indian jackets with videos of modern Londoners and work commissioned and developed by local young people.
We started with the more traditional side of the room before wandering into the middle of the video section, so we were already full of detail and context. Multi-media artists The Light Surgeons went to Brick Lane, Peckham and Chelsea to film people out and about, and ask what they were wearing and why. Even more fascinating is hearing those same people’s comments on oblivious pedestrians; and then we in turn make our own judgements (‘you think she’s too old for that jacket? You think she’s too old?’).
The final part of the exhibition is a series of urban portraits taken by Goldsmiths students and young people local to Forest Hill. Stare into the eyes of flamboyant dressers you’d probably never dare to if you passed them in the street, then rifle through the virtual wardrobes of a couple of other Londoners. It’s all free, so you can make a day of it, nipping in and out while also exploring the gardens, aquarium and, of course, the walrus.
The Body Adorned at the Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, SE23, runs until 6 January 2013.