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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 November 2014

Exhibition review: Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects, photo by V&A

Disobedient Objects, photo by V&A   (Click to enlarge)

Amalia Loizidou reviews the Disobedient Objects exhibition at London's V&A museum

This exhibition takes people on a journey through protests around the world and across time through objects, protest art and design. A Unite union banner saying: "Still the enemy within" greets visitors; this refers to how Thatcher talked of striking miners in the 1980s. The exhibition is full of DIY protest objects - some of which normally have a completely different use.

There is the lid of a cooking pot, used in Argentina around 2001 in protests against the bank accounts of millions being frozen. These protests led to the fall of four different presidents in three weeks. Next to it was a teacup and saucepan from the Women's Social and Political Union, the suffragettes' movement in Britain.

Other objects included a self-made gas mask used by protesters in Turkey in the Gezi park movement and the red square cut-out used as a solidarity symbol for the 2012 Quebec student protests.

A moving feature was the Arpilleras, appliquéd textiles made by women in South America. One of them celebrated the fall of dictator Pinochet in Chile; others were calls of hope and to remember the children who disappeared.

This exhibition also shows the guerrilla girls' gorilla masks, a feminist group of artists who were protesting the lack of female artists' representation in New York's Metropolitan Museum. You can learn about the history of the "bust cards" made in case of the arrest of protesters, explaining to them their rights and legal procedures.

There were placards from the 2011 student demos in Britain against increasing university tuition fees and abolishing the EMA. Wherever you stand in the exhibition a huge banner watches over you, saying "Capitalism Is Crisis". It's a pleasant surprise in a museum - Victoria and Albert (V&A) - named after royalty!

We went to the exhibition the day after the TUC "Britain needs a pay rise" demo in London. So it was good to see stickers from the V&A staff and the PCS union, with slogans about the living wage on the description panels.

Another good feature was a wall covered with current campaigns' material such as leaflets (including Socialism 2014 flyers) and also knickers with slogans about the abortion rights movement in Ireland.

This exhibition can teach you about movements in different places of the world and different moments in time that you might not know about. It even has items that you might have been using yourself while demonstrating for your rights. It will make you smile at objects produced for the different movements. It can also make you cry.

It will certainly leave you inspired about all the struggles across the world and across time. It shows how the baton is now in your hands to fight for your own rights and your own future. The exhibition, on until 1 February 2015 is definitely recommended! And it's free!

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 12 November 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

We can win £10 an hour

Socialism '14: infused with contagious confidence

'A magical fairyland' of corporate tax avoiders

What recovery? Thousands more jobs axed

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Afghanistan war: A legacy of death and destruction

Mid-term elections do not mean shift to right in US


Socialist history

25 years after the Berlin Wall fell


Socialist Party youth and students

Build the education fightback

Fight for our future!


Socialist Party workplace news

St Mungo's strikers celebrate victory

Care UK workers to ballot on 2% pay deal

Sheffield recycling: 'We're out until the boss is out'

Crane drivers tell HTC: It's time to pay up!

Fight JCB's 150 job cuts

London RMT: Vote John Reid


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leading Scottish trade unionists back TUSC

Leicester party building school


Reviews and readers' comments

Exhibition review: Disobedient Objects

Theatre Review: United We Stand

Little charity from high paid care bosses

Labour - the singer or the song?

Flawed maths of the bedroom tax


Obituary

Heulwen Davies 1960-2014


 

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