Dreamers 68: The Year That Changed The World

An exhibition to relive the year that changed the world: Dreamers 68

We might wonder how our age will be remembered, or how historians will see us in the future. Furthermore, we might ask ourselves whether our current actions and words could have any influence on the course of world history or not, according to the chaotic consequences of the so-called ‘butterfly effect’. What is certain is that, back in 1968, everyone was extremely aware of the wind of change blowing in those years. In particular, young people knew that they had to take an active role into that.

1968: much more than a number

1968 does not only represent a date, it is rather a turning point in historical thinking. That year, it took place a true cultural revolution that affected the entire planet; a sequence of struggles, occupations, protests that staged the spirit of opposition to the system, from Italy’s Hot Autumn to the French May, from the Prague Spring to the Chinese Great Cultural Revolution, and so on.

Very different expressions of disagreement were made up due to the specific context of each region, but all aiming at the same purpose. Some of them ended peacefully, others were put down harshly. But who were the main actors behind these emblematic and radical changes? Who drove the uprisings?

The protagonists were undoubtedly the youth, the students, those who felt more than anyone else these kinds of anti-establishment resonance and subversive atmosphere. Cinema and music followed that revolutionary wave and contributed to fuel such upheaval.

An exhibition to relive the year that changed the world: Dreamers 68

On the fiftieth anniversary of this crucial year, AGI (the Italian Journalist Agency) aims to piece together the historical records and recreate that period by setting up a photo and multimedia exhibition at the Museo di Roma, in Trastevere, Rome (5 May – 2 September 2018)

The programme of the exhibition strives to tell this important piece of the 20th century through images, pictures, and audiovisual documents, so that visitors will be able to capture the spirit of that time, thanks to the expressions of the faces, the clothes, the hair, the gestures of the bodies, showed in original pictures and never-seen-before videos.

A widespread phenomenon

We should not forget that the cultural and ideological change of 1968 was driven also by cinema and music, two major means of spreading new ideas in different ways. As regards the most meaningful movies of that time, we can mention an iconic instant film, ‘The Strawberry Statement’ by Stuart Hagmann, and some of the most famous directors of all time who took their first steps in those years, such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Indeed, they managed to stage the contradictions of that historical period and gain popularity.

And while in France the directors of the New Wave (Nouvelle Vague in French) such as Jean-Luc Godard or François Truffaut, electrified the international film scene with their revolutionary way of telling stories, in Italy, ‘Teorema‘ by Pier Paolo Pasolini, a movie on the difficulties of being homosexual, was censored, while Pasolini was tried for indecency.

Other iconic movies we could mention are ‘La Cina è Vicina‘ by Marco Bellocchio, about the middle-class and its crisis, and ‘C’era Una Volta il West‘ by Sergio Leone. Also the music scene dealt with protests and social uprisings. Just think of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Velvet Underground, or Jim Morrison, with his symbolic song ‘When The Music’s Over’ with the lyrics ‘we want the world and we want it now’.

1968 in marketing

The power of those messages is still all around us in our everyday life. For instance, marketers have always been fascinated by the rhetorical speeches and slogans against war and discrimination. The word ‘slogan’ itself had the original meaning of ‘war cry’ in an old Scottish Gaelic dialect, and only later it became a phrase used in advertising.

We can mention some examples of the strong impact that 1968 had on the contemporary marketing strategies: the image of the world under the logo of Sky, calls to mind the provoking writings on the walls. The Diesel campaign ‘Make love not walls’ expresses its disagreement with the exclusion and segregation policies implemented by the American president Donald Trump. Even Gucci, in its pre-fall 2018 campaign evoking the revolutionary French atmosphere of the student riots with the catchphrase ‘Gucci dans les rues‘ (Gucci in the streets), and clearly inspired by the Nouvelle Vague, romantically cites poets such as Arthur Rimbaud, under the banners of Liberté, égalité, sexualité, capturing the spirit of that time.