29 August 2016 | 17 °C

The Disobedient Objects Of Protest

The Disobedient Objects Of Protest
Installation Image, Disobedient Objects,
(c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Installation Image, Disobedient Objects, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Climate Camp, Capitalism is Crisis banner Used 2009-12 © Immo Klink
Climate Camp, Capitalism is Crisis banner Used 2009-12 © Immo Klink
The Bread and Puppet Theatre, Tableau of three puppets
Photo © Jonathan Slaff
The Bread and Puppet Theatre, Tableau of three puppets Photo © Jonathan Slaff
Inflatable cobblestone, action of Eclectic Electric Collective in co-operation with Enmedio collective during the General Strike in Barcelona,
2012
© Oriana Eliçabe/Enmedio.info
Inflatable cobblestone, action of Eclectic Electric Collective in co-operation with Enmedio collective during the General Strike in Barcelona, 2012 © Oriana Eliçabe/Enmedio.info
Installation Image, Disobedient Objects,
(c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Installation Image, Disobedient Objects, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Andy Dao and Ivan Cash, Occupy George overprinted dollar bill
2011
Courtesy of Andy Dao and Ivan Cash
Andy Dao and Ivan Cash, Occupy George overprinted dollar bill 2011 Courtesy of Andy Dao and Ivan Cash

A cup and saucer and a saucepan are two of the most humble objects on display in this exhibition, but with a little context they become powerful forces for change. The aforementioned crockery was part of the fight for gender equality and pots and pans were used to drive out four Argentinian presidents in three days.

This information-packed display is all about how objects have been used to foment change, from the trusted placard with a message for political change to a leaflet highlighting the behind the scenes of large corporations such as McDonald's.

There are items which grab the attention more readily as well, such as papier mache puppets protesting about elitism in the arts and Gorilla masks used to highlight how women artists are not as well represented as men in the major UK galleries.

This exhibition also looks at the evolution of protest in web based campaigns and how propaganda can be turned on its head — the famous deck of cards with Saddam and his lieutenants was subverted when an opposing deck was created featuring the heads of the UK and US governments.

By focussing largely on relatively modern protests, this exhibition also makes the point that protests continue apace throughout the world and recent instances such as the Occupy movement and the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square show that people still find it one of the most effective methods for fostering socio-political change.

This exhibition never takes sides and the use of objects, music and speeches makes it a thoughtful look into how simple objects and statements can become powerful symbols for change.

Disobedient Objects is on at The Porter Gallery, V&A until 1 February. Admission is free.

Also still on at V&A is the Glamour of Italian Fashion, Wedding Dresses and the brilliant paintings of Indian artist MF Husain.

Last Updated 13 July 2015

Tabish Khan

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