Disobedient Objects

Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, 26 July 2014 – 1 February 2015

From a Suffragette tea service to protest robots, this exhibition will be the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It will demonstrate how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design. Disobedient Objects will focus on the period from the late 1970s to now, a time that has brought new technologies and political challenges. On display will be 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….
Related:
Disobedient Objects blog

Disobedient Objects: How-To Guides
Disobedient objects are often everyday items that have been turned to a new purpose. But social change is about making as much as breaking. Sometimes designing a new object creates a new way to disobey. Below are some downloadable PDF how-to guides for making your own version of some of the disobedient objects found in the exhibition.

How to Guide: Makeshift Tear-Gas Mask. Illustrated by Marwan Kaabour, at Barnbrook
How to Guide: Makeshift Tear-Gas Mask. Illustrated by Marwan Kaabour, at Barnbrook

How to Guide: Bucket Pamphlet Bomb. Illustrated by Marwan Kaabour, at Barnbrook. Based on a sketch by Ken Keable, anti-apartheid activist and author of The London Recruit.
How to Guide: Bucket Pamphlet Bomb. Illustrated by Marwan Kaabour, at Barnbrook. Based on a sketch by Ken Keable, anti-apartheid activist and author of The London Recruit.

Why the Left Protests Better: A History of ‘Disobedient Objects’
Source: Nico Hines, Daily Beast, July 28, 2014

From intractable arm locks to inflatable bricks, dissidents have created innovative tools over the years to help their movements succeed. Well, left-wing protesters have, at least. Whether you are planning to halt a battalion of mechanical diggers, shut down a facility, or simply secure maximum attention to your cause, there’s certainly an art to the successful protest. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has become the first institution to hold an exhibition examining the ingenious pieces of art and design that have made demonstrations work. Through an extraordinary breadth of innovation, from arm braces that make human blockades impossible to dismantle to giant inflatables that can alter the media coverage of a struggle, Disobedient Objects argues that flashes of inspirational design have often made the difference in the success of a protest.