A Dystopian London In Memory Palace At V&A

Tie-ins between movies, novels and video games are now commonplace, but this is the first time we’ve seen a graphic novel and a museum exhibition come together. Hari Kunzru has crafted a tale of a post-apocalyptic London where any accounts of events are banned and our protagonist uses the walls of his jail cell to recount all that he can remember.

His recollections are often entertaining. The Circle Line is referred to as a golden circle of gates to another world, with mis-remembered fanciful titles like King’s Curse. Landfill sites are seen as shrines to the objects we treasured the most, an unsubtle knock at the present consumer culture.

This exhibition brings the story to life through the works of various artists, including a replica of the main character’s cell and pictures of a shattered Shard or the Orbit tower being taken over by vegetation.

The most arresting installation is by the artist collective Le Gun, whose re-interpretation of the NHS is a witch doctor sat atop a wagon filled with potions, which is being pulled along by a team of foxes. It’s impressively cast and a fearful sight; better to remain ill than receive the treatment.

The exhibition ends with a neat interactive section where visitors can add their own treasured memories to the walls of the exhibition. The novel is also available separately from the V&A’s shop (£10), but the exhibition’s narrative hangs together well without reading it.

Not all of the art is convincing in its portrayal of an alternative future, but that doesn’t stop this being an inventive and entertaining exhibition. Sky Arts and the V&A should be commended for taking a chance on something a little daring and different.

Sky Arts Ignition’s Memory Palace is on at the Victoria and Albert museum until 20 October. Tickets are £8 for adults, concessions available. Even if you aren’t able to attend, you can submit your memories for inclusion via twitter.

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Tabish Khan 2

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  • JRadon

    Great article, but shoddy research! LE GUN is not ‘a street artist’ but an artist collective who also publish a hefty art magazine – http://www.legun.co.uk

    • Tabish

      Thanks corrected