Spice Mania, like friendship, never ends. Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of “Wannabe,” the English pop group’s first single, is an art exhibition at The Ballery in Berlin. More than 15 artists have contributed Spice Girls-inspired art, from photographs and videos, to a mural, a set of Spice Girls votive candles, and one pair of embroidered teenage underwear.
For curator Nadir Catalano, the Spice Girls helped to define a generation of teenagers, a number of whom were queer, who proclaimed, “Girl Power!” Now, Catalano aims to recreate the feeling of the artist’s teenage bedrooms, postered with pictures of their favorite “zig-a-zig, ah”-ing 5-piece. Diving deep into 90s nostalgia, Friday's opening night was geared up to “[recreate] a pure 90s-teen-party-atmosphere,” with the added bonus of queer and avant-garde drag performances. Catalano writes that, “[f]or a whole generation of teenagers,” the Spice Girls was “the first CD to buy, the first poster to hang up, the first concert to attend, the first time to dress up.”
Exhibiting artists, who hail from Berlin, the UK, Spain, Italy, Australia, and more, were asked to reflect on the influence that the Spice Girls phenomenon had on them over the past 20 years. The works in the show deal with personal identity and growth through the lens of the Spice Girls. Artists were prompted with questions like, “Who were you back then and who are you now?” and “Were you more Baby, Scary, Ginger, Sporty, or Posh?
Illustrator Mi Nator was definitely more Baby Spice, as evidenced by her Lisa Frank-stickered work featured in the show. Artist Juan Sanchez Porta evidently couldn’t pick just one, and created a set of prayer candles, each Spice Girl getting her own bleeding heart, ring of roses, and Versace cloak usually reserved for Our Lady of Sorrows. And just in case the fandom needed something to read, designers Francesca Tambussi and Alexandra Rupert created a Spice Girls fanzine for the show. One photograph is "photographer unknown," but shows a group of Burners (Burning Man attendees) dressed as the Spice Girls in the desert.
Meanwhile in the real world, the Spice Girls themselves have been caught up in some drama of their own. Last month, also celebrating two decades of “Wannabe,” Baby Spice, Ginger Spice, and Mel B (real names: Emma Bunton, Geri Horner, and Melanie Brown) announced a Spice Girls reunion. They decided on a trio after Sporty Spice and Posh Spice (Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham) declined to take part. The trio have already begun recording new music, but Sporty Spice is allegedly threatening legal action. Perhaps it’s best to just think back to the glory days.