Gerry Adams is annoyed. That's not unusual as it seems to be his natural state of being but this time it's the arts world that is getting under his skin. He was invited to the opening night for the Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum next week by the exhibition's curator Trisha Ziff - who then had to withdraw his invitation because the powers above her deemed Adams "neither relevant or appropriate on the launch night." This being a case of perpetually outraged Sinn Fein President vs. one of the world's biggest collections of fashion accessories, it is very likely that there will indeed be handbags at dawn.
The beloved Victoria and Albert museum has been mentioned more than once on this site for it's part in London's art and culture scene and any opening night is a big deal. The opening night for Che will have a 1960s fashion show and a display of 1960s graphic design; the exhibition itself is a mixture of photography, posters, film, fine art and clothing inspired by the image from more than 30 countries. It's a little presumptuous to strike Adams off the list for being irrelevant to such a scene - how can the museum be so certain that he doesn't collect Che Guevara cigarette lighters and Cuban kitsch just because he's so hot on Irish politics? Does presidency of Sinn Fein mean he can't appreciate a catwalk show? The museum has backed their decision by pointing out that it has a policy of not inviting people affiliated to any specific party, but will allow Adams to attend as a personal guest of Ziff.
Adams has his own presumptions about being barred: "Mr Adams, who has consistently denied allegations that he is a member of the IRA’s army council, said one possible reason for the Museum’s decision was that it was OK to struggle against injustice, but not against British injustice." Whatever comes of the invitation, whether it is extended to him again or withdrawn again, Adams won't be attending in any case. He has predictably turned down any conciliatory gesture and will be in Spain meeting Basque political parties in the wake of the ETA ceasefire instead. We think this is a political manoeuvre called "nyah nyah wasn't bothered anyway, stick your opening night, I'm going to be having tapas and getting an Iberian suntan with my real friends pffffbbbbtttttt"
For the future, we recommend Londonist's Culture Crawl for Adams' social diary. It would be a real shame to see Adams miss out on other interesting arts events to get outraged about. After all, every misunderstood political personality needs a rota of arts institutions and events to get really excited about and if he sticks with it long enough, he too could one day be the subject of an arts event and not just the guy who got turned away at the door. Just like Che... some day...
Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 7th June, more information and tickets here.