Have you ever considered the many ways in which art and design practices can be politically active? The V&A’s latest exhibition, Disobedient Objects, catalogues four decades worth of ‘alternative infrastructure’ that protesters have used and challenges us to consider their role in influencing commercial art and design.
Art and Design for Social Change
It’s the first to examine the powerful role of objects in the previously under-examined area of art and design in movements for social change.
Although most of the objects on show appear simple in means, they have certainly proved to be rich in ends. Disobedient objects is about taking common everyday objects, appropriating them and giving them a brand spanking new purpose.
Possibly one of the most well known examples of recent times was the humble shoe that was hurled at President Bush by an Iraqi journalist during a press conference. As well as this being a symbolic cultural gesture the journalist took a moment to inscribe the sole with the words ‘A farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog’.
Simple Objects Demonstrate Political Activism
From suffragette tea sets (one of the more comfortable objects on display to contemplate) with their Starbucks-esque logo, to the huge inflatable silver cobblestones designed by the Eclectic Electric Collective (used during the 2012 General Strike in Barcelona), the show demonstrates how political activism creates a piquant selection of design and creativity.
Martin Roth, Director of The V&A, said of the exhibition..
“It shows that even with the most limited of resources, ordinary people can take design into their own hands. This is a brave and unusual exhibition; these are brave and unusual designers”.
All in all I found the show to be a varied and thought-provoking look at the impact that design has on the way we live.
The atmospheric presentation, with its barricade entrance and rough chipboard display stands, presents design not just as a decorative luxury, but as a driving force in the changing of the world – I would defiantly recommend anyone with an interest in design to take a visit.
‘Disobedient Objects’ Victoria and Albert Museum is on from 26thJuly 2014–1st February 2015.
If you have already been then share a picture with us on Twitter @nirvanacph or Instagram @nirvanacph. What did you think of the exhibition – which piece challenged you the most? I’d love to talk about it in the discussion comments below.