If you’re in the UK or planning to head over to London this year, then it might be worth a visit to the city’s esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum where there is an exhibition of Disobedient Objects charting the history of protest through the “objects of art and design from activist social movement over the last 30 years.”
From Suffragette teapots 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 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.
The exhibition covers anti-globalization demonstrations, the Occupy movement, plus a wide array materials from Unions, activists and protestors down the year. Amongst the items on display are a robot that paints graffiti, union strike banners, placards, fake money and Occupy George stamps.
The V&A have also made available activist posters with instructions on how to make improvised tear gas masks and bucket pamphlet bombs.
How to Guide – Makeshift Tear-Gas Mask
Handmade gas masks were an essential response to police actions during the 2013 mass protests in Istanbul. These events saw the Turkish government release a record amount of tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Protesters devised a way to protect themselves with basic materials like plastic bottles, elastic, and strips of insulation foam.
Since 2013, the idea spread and handmade gas masks have appeared on protestors as far away as Caracas, Venezuela.
How to Guide – Bucket Pamphlet Bomb
This bucket-type leaflet bomb used by the London Recruits, a group of mostly young non-South Africans working voluntarily for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP). With these devices, the London Recruits distributed censored information in South African cities from 1969 onwards. The leaflet bombs harmed no one, but distributed hundreds of leaflets high into the air.
This how-to is based on sketch by Ken Keable, one of the Recruits, and is based on the research in his book The London Recruits. These devices were developed by ANC exiles in Britain, who tested prototypes in Bristol, the Somerset countryside, on Hampstead Heath and in Richmond Park.
Download your “how to” leaflets here.