Trump, Brexit, Grenfell And Refugees: A Political Powerhouse Of An Exhibition At Design Museum

Hope to Nope, Design Museum ★★★★★

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 6 months ago

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Trump, Brexit, Grenfell And Refugees: A Political Powerhouse Of An Exhibition At Design Museum Hope to Nope, Design Museum 5
The exhibition opens with Shepard Fairey's iconic Obama poster and it's a rocky ride from there.

Were you a staunch Remainer or did you think we were going to get our country back? Across the Atlantic was the preference 'Pantsuits for President', or was Trump going to make America great again?

Design Museum's latest exhibition looks back over the last 10 years to show how graphic design has influenced political causes across the spectrum from the left wing to the right. It's been a tumultuous 10 years and this show brings together some of the most inventive ways that support has been garnered for multiple causes.

A large chunk of this show is understandable dedicated to Brexit.

I voted Remain* and seeing the poster and t-shirt asking us to 'stay in' reminded me that the wound is still raw.  However, even the strongest Remain campaigner has to be impressed by the Sun's commissioned take on the Bayeux tapestry — dubbed the Bye-EU tapestry.

It starts with 'Cameroon' sallying forth to negotiate with Europe only to receive an arrow in the eye. Boris rejoices as we vote to leave, before being stabbed in the back by Gove, with Theresa victorious. Visitors of all political allegiances must admit this is a very inventive piece of propaganda.

Perhaps the work that brings everyone's feelings to the forefront is a Union Jack, in which the St. George's Cross and the Saltire have been replaced with fragile tape as the Union just about hangs together.

Lots of different protests from around the world are screened here from trying to eject Zuma in South Africa to demanding Justice for Grenfell.

Alongside Brexit, Trump gets a lot of attention in this show and understandably so as the outspoken and controversial leader of the free world. The Women's March is projected on to screen proclaiming 'this pussy grabs back', while on the other side we see how viral the Pepe the Frog meme became as it was co-opted by the alt-right.

Our favourite was the 'all seeing Trump', based on the fortune teller machines often found at arcades or travelling circuses. An imitation Trump speaks to each visitor — for us he suggested that it was time to ditch Melania for a younger model, quite possibly Ivanka, while for others he promises the 'greatest Nuclear war' where there will be plenty of employment afterwards, clearing away the dead bodies.

This duck was part of the protest is Brazil against Government corruption.

It's difficult to strike a balance when representing both sides, so it's impressive that this show manages to perfectly straddle this line. Below an animated video of the terrifying facts of the refugee crisis, lies an Australian publication. Said publication was dropped on countries such as Afghanistan warning against making the treacherous journey to flee their country — designed to prevent migrants heading to Australia.

There are buckets of intelligent, inventive and powerful pieces of design in this show, covering movements such as Occupy's fist of the 99% crushing the suited 1%, the use of Pride colours to subvert Russian propaganda posters and highlighting the collateral damage caused by artillery and aircraft strikes in Gaza.

This poster is rather meta in recognising that just posters won't save us.

London gets a look in with the #Justice4Grenfell campaign including one of its large green hearts, and the Brixton pound showcasing innovation taking place at the local scale.

We're always stressing how there should be more exhibitions that the public can identify with, and this show is in our desired sweet spot. It's current, it's relevant, it's powerful, and it's one of the best exhibitions of the year so far.  

Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18 is on at Design Museum until 12 August. Tickets are £12 for adults. While at the museum don't miss the last chance to catch the Ferrari exhibition.

* This is the view of the reviewer and not necessarily that of Londonist.

Last Updated 19 April 2018