Friday, 15 August 2014

"Disobedient Objects" exhibit at the V&A museum in London

wiphala with procession of marching bands

I’m honored to have my photo of a “wiphala” (above; click photo for larger version) included in an exhibit of Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London through 1 February 2015:

From a Suffragette tea service to protest robots, this exhibition is the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It demonstrates how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design…. On display are arts of rebellion from around the world that illuminate the role of making in grassroots movements for social change: finely woven banners; defaced currency; changing designs for barricades and blockades; political video games; an inflatable general assembly to facilitate consensus decision-making; experimental activist-bicycles; and textiles bearing witness to political murders.

As I explained in the column about “The Amazing Race” in which this photo was first published, the “wiphala” is a rainbow-colored checkerboard flag that serves as a transnational symbol of indigenous identity for peoples throughout the Andes. I’ve seen it as far north as Ecuador and as far south as Argentina. It’s not a “national” symbol. It’s nothing unusual that the marching band in the photo is wearing hats in blue-and-white Argentine national colors while also carrying the wiphala. (I took this picture at a local festival in Tilcara, Argentina, although the exhibition catalog erroneously labels it as being from La Paz, Bolivia.)

I just received my copy of the Disobedient Objects catalog, and it looks like a fascinating show. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see it in person. I was in the UK when it opened, but was only in central and northern England and Scotland, and didn’t get anywhere near London.

(Yes, there are international gateways to the UK other than those serving London and the South-East of England. We arrived in Hull by ferry from Rotterdam, and left from Manchester Airport. Manchester is the largest airport in the UK other than those serving London, and has the best direct mainline rail connections to other cities of any UK airport. There are direct trains, many of which carry bicycles, between Manchester Airport and cities throughout northen England and as far as Glasgow and Edinburgh.)

The V&A describes itself, with an Anglocentric imperial pomposity befitting its monarchist name, as “The world’s greatest museum of art and design”. Art? No. Graphic, architectural, and other genres of design? Maybe. Given that I worked for a decade in graphics and print production, it’s perhaps no surprise that the V&A is my favorite London museum.

At least for me, the V&A is always worth a visit., and this show looks especially interesting. If you’re in London between now and next February 1st, check it out.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 15 August 2014, 09:03 ( 9:03 AM)
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