It’s hard to imagine the ‘summer of love’ was 50 years ago. It was a time of sexual revolution, political activism and tripping out with Timothy Leary. To commemorate its half-centenary anniversary, Summer of Love is a group exhibition at the Art Space Pythagorion in Samos, Greece where 10 international artists including Melanie Bonajo, Uriel Orlow and Marge Monko show how the past reflects the present; be it free love, flower power or political unrest.
“We owe a lot to 1967,” said curator Katerina Gregos. “It was more than sex, drugs and rock n roll, it was the intersection of politics and love; many of the social solidarity, racial equality and grassroots movements are being brought back today.”
San Francisco artist Tomomi Itakura created a series of double-sided street signs outside the art space which show a then-and-now comparison of how healthcare, intimacy and civil rights movements have changed (or stayed the same). One reads “Vietnam War” and “War on Terror,” while another reads “Civil Rights” and “Black Lives Matter.” San Francisco, the original hub of the summer of love, has also changed from “Hippie” to “Hipster”.
In London-based artist Mikhail Karikis’ installation, the music videos that were banned in Greece during the summer of love are on view (The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club being one of them) alongside a reading lounge with great writings on love, including Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Outside, Karikis has a large phrase emblazoned on the side of the art space: “Love is the institution of revolution.”
The revolution, you ask? Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm notes that if 1967 was the summer of love, then 2017 is the summer of war. Inspired by vintage rock posters, the artist has taken phrases from protest placards this year, whether it was advocacy for refugees or the Women’s March, to learn that the things the hippies were fighting for are still necessary causes today.
Some things have changed, though. “We are more cynical and direct,” said Mäetamm, “and yet, we haven’t made any progress.”
Summer of Love runs until October 15 at Art Space Pythagorion.