Disobedient Objects @ The Victoria and Albert Museum

Disobedient objects exhibition

I fucking loved this. I went to see this with my friend Georgie a few weeks ago. The Victoria and Albert is housing the exhibition, which is made up of objects used in protest. I loved the contrast between this grand, traditional building, which was made possible by a monarchy, and items of disobedience against established systems being luxuriously displayed for us to see.

I can’t determine my own feelings, whether I liked the fact that these ideas and concepts were being presented to the public by an entity as established as the V&A or whether the irony was too much. The contrast added to naughty feeling you get from being disobedient. In my mind, making it obvious to people the other ideas we should be disobedient to – I found this quite daring. I especially liked that when you are looking for the exhibit in the building they had the sign for it ‘disobedient objects’ underneath a sign directing you to ‘wedding dresses’.

In the exhibit itself the objects were testaments to human ingenuity and necessity being the mother of invention. These items were designed most often by a group of people with a lot less resources than the system they were protesting. This meant that there were folk arts in there, which I really enjoyed. Weaving and painting.

The first two items I saw were a battered pot lid from an Argentinian revolution and a teacup and saucer from an Edwardian tea set supporting the Suffragettes. The contrast was effective. People have to use whatever techniques they can to get attention and support for their cause. They have to be loud and quiet, and use all methods available to them.

The exhibit was good for highlighting to me lots of different protests and movements that I wasn’t aware that had happened recently, and how successful these had been. It reaffirmed to me how controlled our media is, highlighting certain issues and not wanting us to be aware of alternative systems of managing ourselves that can work.

Running around the exhibit were lots of excited school children with workbooks. I was pleased that kids at a young and impressionable age were being shown the possibilities bound up in protest. There was a strange moment when a young girl (10 or 11) asked her teacher what ‘Page Three’ was in response to the ‘ban page three placards’. My first reaction to this was to try and stop giggling, watching an adult explain anything with sexual connotations to a child is usually good for an awkward laugh. Listening to her halted explanation, I was pleased that the exhibit has such a modern focus. Most of the items are from the 1970’s onward and that fact demonstrates that there are still lots of systems we should be disobedient within, and lots of methods of achieving this.

If you can get down to this exhibit, try and make the effort. It is killer, gave me a lot to think about as well as being free!

If you want to read more about how they put the exhibit together – click here


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