The exhibition Back To The 80s in Oslo at The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is a reminder of this decade of contrasts. It helps us to understand that history is happening here and now, that there is no coincidence and that we’re going to face it again. The story is not over – and the 80’s are not yet forgotten.
Anyone remember these fashions or Miami Vice?
I was in my 30s at the time and remember much of this exhibition well. Some of us have spent almost 20 years trying to forget the 1980s. We have destroyed the images of ourselves with short hair on top and long in the neck (maybe hair everywhere, sprayed and teased up to a fur balls the size of the sun). We have sent Poco Loco-sweaters, shoulder pads and our white washed jeans to Africa. We have done our best to suppress the music that can best be described as a crime against humanity, like Kenny G’s Songbird, Modern Talking, Brother Louie or the Beach Boys’ Kokomo.
Do you still have you’re LPs and enjoy vinyl?
The girls are no longer lounging in their pleather sofas and dreaming of Pat Sharp, Don Johnson and Patrick Swayze, but they still blush mysteriously when they remember their dates at Café Checkmate with newly rich Yuppies (young upwardly mobile professional individuals) and tanned UN soldiers home on leave from the war in Lebanon.
No girls in the sofa when I was there, but I still enjoyed the Stress Less :-)
For many of us the 1980s represents a historical base point which we have partly succeeded in forgetting. But, as Bruce Springsteen sings in The Riverside from 1980; Memories come back to Haunt me. The exhibition shows that the 80s was a decade that perhaps more than anything else was characterized by sharp contrasts; between community involvement and individualism – despair and optimism as well as wealth and poverty – black and pastel, Punk Rock and dance pop and even between fear and liberation. All this was well illustrated at stands, displays rooms and furnishings:
The exhibition room at The Folk Museum.
Laughter and suspense:
While the music of pop artists was positive and upbeat, the 80s began with intense fear at the height of the Cold War, right wing politics of The Reagan administration and Margret Thatcher. Fortunately it ended with liberation, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and a completely changed political climate.
Posters of pop icons: Madonna, Duran Duran, Michel Jackson, Bonjovi and Dire Straits.
Along the way, we invented CD players and computers bread and milk became available around the clock, environmentalists who were more than hippies and a housing boom. The banks could lend us money to buy new homes. Having fun was allowed again. Here is a collection of stands that might jog your memory:
Left: Mac & Osborn (I had both!) – Right: TV & Videogames
Left: Children become consumers with Star Wars and designer clothes – Right: Adults got VHF cassette players.
It was an impressive and very visual exhibition taking me right down memory lane from the decade when I got finished my college years and got my masters degree in economics, started my career as a sales trainee, had my first born – a daughter, played A-Ha’s big hit Take on Me on my record player, bought my first Volvo and experienced the introduction of micro computers (do you remember spread sheets like SuperCalc and VisiCalc or WordPerfect?). What a blast from the past.
This is an example of the kinds of exhibition you may see at The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. Here are some other earlier posts from there: Lefse and rural farmhouse from Norway and Folk Dance in Bunad from Norway.
It’s at Bygdøy island, just 20 minuets by boat or buss from Oslo, where you also find the Maritime, Viking Ship, KonTiki and even more museums. All this will be at your disposal at the Oslo Blog Gathering in Oslo in August this year. Even more: if you join us and book the Program Fee – entrance to these museums will be included! Click the logo to the left to read the program and how you can participant at a compact three days program to explore the city and Norway’s history, culture and traditions!