Their Mortal Remains

50 years of Pink Floyd

Between 2001 and 2004, we were lucky enough to meet and talk to Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett, one of the most mysterious men in rock and roll history, on three or four occasions. Back then, it wasn’t that easy to find him, nobody knew where he lived, besides it was supposed to be in Cambridge. But when you are mad enough, as well as lucky or stubborn, to spend whole days searching through that city streets, all the way to the village of Grantchester, on foot, solely on the basis of feelings and song lyrics… finally your madness will always show you the right way, just when you gave up on that crazy story: a post office right near St Margaret’s Square to go and ask.

Maybe, if he was here today, he’d still remember the train on our thank-you card, or the temperas and paintbrushes covered with stickers — he seemed so happy and anxious to get them! All we got from those days is a special memory, some picture of Syd’s house and a video fried out in the last and worst of those meetings — the time we finally decided to capture some of that experience, although we promised we would never do it. While we’re trying to find the right place to take the scene without being seen, we realise he’s coming on our backs with his bike…

Today, this is just one of the many reasons why we still believe in the secret magic of some things like art and rock and roll, a little bit like bleeding from your nose after a photo with a Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, once you get out of a Hard Rock Cafe: you can’t take the magic. You can only live it.

Syd died on 7 July 2006. He was the “Crazy Diamond”, founder — and then muse — of the ultimate psychedelic band, before falling into an insane vegetable dimension that he himself announced already in 1968, in one of his last songs with Pink Floyd. The song was Vegatable Man and did not have an official release until 2016, when it was included on the box set The Early Years 1965–1972.

This and other stories are now on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, from 13th May to 1st October 2017, 50 years after the first band’s release, Arnold Layne.

Curated by the V&A by a team led by Victoria Broackes alongside Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell of Hipgnosis, the Creative Director of Pink Floyd, and Paula Stainton, the exhibition named Their Mortal Remains, with sonic experience by Sennheiser, will celebrate the band’s era-defining work in composition, staging, design, film, music technology, graphic design and photography. It will feature more than 350 objects and artefacts including never-before-seen material, presented alongside works from the V&A’s outstanding collections of art, design, architecture and performance.

Highlights will include spectacular set and construction pieces from some of Pink Floyd’s most innovative and legendary album covers and stage performances including The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Division Bell, instruments, music technology, original designs, architectural drawings, handwritten lyrics and psychedelic prints and posters.

At the exhibition, visitors will have the unique opportunity to experience never-before-seen classic Pink Floyd concert footage and a custom-designed laser light show. From January 19 to July 1, 2018, Their Mortal Remains opens at Rome’s Museo d’Arte Contemporanea — MACRO —, located less than 1km from The Piper Club, which played host to Pink Floyd’s first shows in Italy in April 1968.


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