The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains is on show at Rome's MACRO from 19 January until 27 May.
A major retrospective dedicated to the influential and experimental music group Pink Floyd was launched at Rome's MACRO on 16 January, in the presence of two of the band's founding members, Rogers Waters and Nick Mason.
The city's mayor Virginia Raggi told the packed press conference that the fact that Pink Floyd chose Rome as the first international venue for the exhibition, following its showing at London's V&A, proved that Rome was a "world capital of culture."
Sitting under a giant inflatable businessman, an original prop from the band's 1977 Animals tour, Waters described the Rome show as a "technological miracle" and said it "jogged quite a few memories."
Mason credited the Rolling Stones and in particular David Bowie for paving the way for this "new genre" of multimedia exhibition which involves an interactive mix of music, artefacts and interviews.
Billed as a “spectacular audiovisual journey”, the show chronicles five decades of Pink Floyd's music, design and staging, from the band's beginnings in the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition runs in chronological order, accompanied by the music and voices of the past and present members of the group which shaped the course of pop and rock music history.
Unlike many other interactive exhibitions, visitors are equipped with an audioguide whose commentary and soundtrack changes automatically in each section. This makes for a truly immersive, and personal, connection with the show.
The show begins with a trippy light show in a corridor lined with posters from the early days, to the backdrop of the wonderfully jarring Interstellar Overdrive from the band's pioneering inaugural album Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in 1967.
Central to Pink Floyd's experimental foray into psychedelic rock was lead singer and principal songwriter Syd Barrett (1946-2006) whose fragile mental state saw him leave the band in 1968, a departure which would see him become a recluse for the rest of his life. Barrett, who is recalled fondly, even tearfully, in interviews by his peers, was replaced subsequently by David Gilmour.
The exhibition features an array of memorabilia and anecdotes relating to each stage of the band's development, charting its progress through its earlier albums up until it hit the jackpot in 1973, both artistically and financially, with Dark Side of the Moon - what is described today as a “concept album”, according to Mason.
There are numerous insights into later classic albums such as Wish You Were Here, The Wall and The Division Bell, including the original hand-written lyrics to the song Have a Cigar, as well as the infamous story behind the inflatable pig which escaped from London's Battersea power station in 1977.
A highlight of the show comes at the end with the Performance Zone, where visitors enter an immersive audiovisual space - minus their earphones - featuring a 2005 performance of Comfortably Numb and including footage from the band's legendary performance in Pompeii in 1971.
The show is certainly a must for Pink Floyd fans as well as those interested in learning about the band whose first Italian gig took place half a decade ago at the Piper Club, just a few blocks away from MACRO.