Protest Design: Disobedient Objects at the V&A
The act of protest has blossomed into also being an opportunity for tremendous creativity. In the first exhibit of its kind, the Victoria and Albert Museum has gathered a healthy sampling of items designed and produced by grassroots social movements since the mid-1970’s. “From Suffragette teapots to protest robots” the Disobedient Objects exhibit “will demonstrate how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design.”
Inflatable cobblestones first used during the General Strike in Barcelona in February 2012
Everyday objects have become part and parcel of protest. From homemade gas masks to book blocs protesters are perfecting the use of the world around them to help fight the powers that be.
One of our favorites is the book bloc. As the curators of the exhibit noted:
The idea originated in Italy in 2011, during student protests against severe budget cuts to public education. The protestors created cardboard and plexiglas shields decorated like books. Each shield was decorated differently, with students picking their own book design to protect and represent them. The book blocs were used to non-violently push back against police baton strikes and punches. The ‘book bloc’ idea spread like a meme. It can now be seen around the world in protests against cuts to public education and libraries
Book Bloc, Rome, November 2010 Vittorio Giannitell, SonarProject
and then there is the homemade gas mask:
Faced with police tear-gas, protesters in Turkey made their own gas masks via
These and many more objects are featured in the exhibition catalog.