Many thanks to Tony Morris for this:
Exhibitionism – The Stones at the Saatchi – a view from the gallery by Tony Morris*
Adopting the sensible policy of arriving fifteen minutes ahead of our allotted time-slot, we congregated in one of SW3’s more sedate corners with a queue of ticket-wielding punters hyped up by the blurb on the street. Expectations raised from so-so to nearly-excited, we dutifully filed into the former barracks building turned hip art spot.
A promising start: the introductory wall-filling multi-screen display in which the history of the band was encapsulated into about five minutes was exhilarating. It was followed by the Edith Grove flat reproduction which struck me as pretty pointless, taking up more space than it justified. My wife and I lived through similar with various of our son’s pre-matrimonial squalid abodes. The two rooms that followed were rammed full of people who barely moved gawping at interesting early iconography and physical documents as well as electronic displays cataloguing every gig ever played, recording made etc. However, the patience:reward ratio was not well-balanced, so we spent less time in these rooms than their content probably merited. This was not at all encouraging and made one think that, at £22 a pop for a senior’s ticket, we were doing little more than making a further contribution to the ‘make-Mick-Jagger-an-even-richer-man’ fund. I would have said pension fund – but the show demonstrated that there seems little likelihood of the Stones either ever retiring or actually needing to draw on a pension. Sympathyfrom the Devil?
After that the exhibits were, in the main, sufficiently spaced to give most viewers just about enough time to take them in – or at least get the feel of what there was about each. Having said that, the experience was never comfortable and one was always conscious of the noise of the odd philistine with a smartphone and/or an infant-in-a-pushchair and the smell of the crowd.
Separate and well-presented displays were given over to each of a number of themes including touring, costumes, recording, Stones on film, music video, artwork/design, musicians and so on. Each was thoughtfully put together and contained multi-media mixes of visual and audio elements. The sound-bites predominantly featured Mick and Keith and some from Ronnie; there was little or none from Charlie, whose influence, nevertheless, on the ‘look’ and design of the band’s artwork etc we had previously not appreciated. The extensive contribution made by the Stones to the business side of rock ‘n’ roll is barely touched on. A few snippets mention first manager and author of much of their early impact, Andrew Loog Oldham, though there is seemingly no mention at all of Allen Klein or Prince Rupert who followed in his wake. Exhibitionism culminates in an immersive 3D performance of ‘Satisfaction’ from, I think, 2014 or 2015 – undoubtedly one of the highlights.
Overall the exhibition is sort-of-worth seeing but does not justify more than a tube journey to do so and, for us hard pressed seniors still working to preserve our pensions, it wasn’t (really) worth £22 in the context of what else £22 can still get you in terms of Arts/Ents in London.
Tony Morris is a Portsmouth native. He lives and works in London where he is a lawyer specialising in film and music. He has recently published “The Filmmakers’ Legal Guide” @TMOR_London @FilmakersLegal