Every seven years since 1964, director Michael Apted has returned to document children from varying economic and social backgrounds in Up series. The children are now in their 50s, and the latest entry in the series, 56 Up, premieres this month in the UK.
For the POV broadcast of 49 Up, we asked seven artists to create a visual representation of the politics and culture at the time of each installment.
1964 Seven Up!
The Beatles sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and millions of women in England and America swooned over John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Muhammad Ali (still known by his birth name of Cassius Clay) was crowned heavyweight champion of the world and Mary Poppins packed audiences into movie theaters.
While Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, another future Nobel Peace laureate, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa.
Harold Wilson was the prime minister of Britain in 1964, and Lyndon B. Johnson had recently become the president of the United States after the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
After a U.S. destroyer is allegedly attacked off the coast of North Vietnam, Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving Johnson the power to conduct military operations and escalate the war in Vietnam.
Artist: Natsko Seki works as an illustrator, animator and a graphic designer in London. Her aim is to create pieces that are positive, upbeat and humorous. More of her work can be seen at www.natsko.com.
1971 7 Plus Seven
1971 saw further escalation of both the war in Vietnam and protests against the war in the United States.
The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, revealing secret U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1971; sixty percent of Americans opposed the war; and the Weather Underground allegedly bombed the U.S. Capitol to protest the war’s expansion into Laos.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan, General Idi Amin took control of Uganda and Switzerland finally granted women the right to vote.
In popular culture, the Beatles broke up, the ground-breaking sitcom All in the Family debuted and sleekly designed Corvettes roamed the highways of America.
Artist: Jamal Cyrus has exhibited in museums and galleries nationally and internationally. His work was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and, along with his art collaborative “Otabenga Jones and Associates” created the “hybrid exhibition-classroom-performance piece” Lessons from Below, on view at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Cyrus received a BFA from the University of Houston (2004) and will receive his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2008.
Special thanks to Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts.
1978 21 Up
Disco reigned supreme, and the world’s first “test-tube baby” — Louise Brown — was born.
Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States and James Callaghan was the prime minister of England.
Music from Grease and Saturday Night Fever dominated the charts, The Deer Hunter won the Academy Award for Best Picture and theatergoers made Annie Hall and Animal House two of the year’s most popular films.
Artist: Hanneke Treffers is an Amsterdam-based freelance illustrator and creator. She graduated in photography design in 2002 at the Academy of Arts and Design St. Joost, Breda, The Netherlands. More of her work can be seen at www.handiedan.com.
1985 28 Up
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan led Great Britain and the United States respectively in 1985, while behind the Iron Curtain, Mikhail Gorbachev became the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
In Britain, a bitter, protracted miner’s strike ended with the Conservative government defeating the National Union of Mineworkers and going on to privatize major national industries.
In America, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. tops the charts, The Cosby Show was the most popular series on television and Rambo: First Blood II nearly swept the Razzie Awards with Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Original Song and Worst Screenplay honors.
Artist: John Sheridan was born in Detroit and lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He works in several formats, including collage, and he is interested in developing an aesthetic that embodies solidarity with and analysis of his working class American upbringing. More of his work can be seen at www.johnsheridanart.com.
1992 35 Up
George H.W. Bush was coming to the end of his first and only term as the president of the United States and John Major served as the prime minister of England (1990-1997) and leader of the British Conservative Party.
The European Union was founded with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.
Rioting broke out in South Central Los Angeles after the acquittal of the police officers who were videotaped beating African-American Rodney King.
Madonna released the controversial coffee table book Sex; the Princess Diana biography Diana: Her True Story was a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic; and Wayne’s World was one of the most popular movies of the year in America.
Artist: Alexis Mackenzie obtained her BFA from Tufts University, and lives and works in San Francisco. Her art, all of which is montaged by hand and not digitally altered in any way, has appeared in a number of shows and publications in Los Angeles, Sydney, Copenhagen and New York. Alexis founded the Plantimals Collective in 2002. More of her work can be seen at www.alexisanne.com.
1999 42 Up
Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, was impeached and then acquitted by the Senate on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Tony Blair was the prime minister of Britain, and the Euro currency was introduced.
Amid overblown threats of cascading computer failures and widespread disaster when the new millennium began, billions of dollars were spent worldwide on Y2K computer upgrades.
Meanwhile, the file-sharing service Napster quickly became a popular way to share copyrighted music.
Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, and two students opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 15 people, including themselves.
Artist: Bryan Kahrs is currently planted in the studio of id29, in Troy, NY. A graduate of Ohio Universities Graphic Design program, he has worked with and for: Nikon, Scholastic, UNIQLO, Burton Snowboards, Pitney Bowes MapInfo, Sotheby’s, EuroRSCG, Mohawk, Merlin Bicycles, The Cleveland Airport and EMPAC. More of his work can be seen at www.stepandrepeatdesign.com.
2006 49 Up
George W. Bush, president of the United States, Tony Blair, prime minister of England and Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, dominated the news in 2006.
The war in Iraq, supported by the U.S. and by Britain, continued on, and Hussein, who had been captured and deposed in 2003, was executed in December 2006.
In sports, French captain and soccer icon Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the final minutes of the World Cup championship match, while top athletes such as cyclist Floyd Landis and baseball player Barry Bonds were questioned for using performance-enhancing drugs.
The Queen, an English film dramatizing the real-life events that transpired after the death of Princess Diana in 1997, wins accolades in Britain and in the U.S., and the American television show CSI: Miami was the most-watched show in the U.K.
Artist: Brent Rollins is a graphic designer and an artist. He is originally from Los Angeles, and now lives and works in Brooklyn. He has designed covers for Black Star, Tokion magazine and more, and designed the logo for the film Boyz in the Hood. He has also exhibited his murals and collages in galleries around the country. More of his work can be seen at www.brentrollins.com.