Disobedient Objects

Can a plastic bottle vehemently break the rules? Has a mug the capacity to be inherently insubordinate?

Disobedient Objects
Disobedient Objects

Very much so, we’re told, in a new book from V&A publishing that is to accompany its forthcoming show, Disobedient Objects.

How to create a protest-worthy bicycle
How to create a protest-worthy bicycle

The exhibition opens at the end of next month, showing visitors objects from around the world used by various protest groups to fight their various causes.

Fuck the Law pendant and badges of the Struggle Against Apartheid, 1980-94
Fuck the Law pendant and badges of the Struggle Against Apartheid, 1980-94

It’s a fascinating premise for a show, exploring how ideologies and defiance are manifested through physical relics as well as people and their philosophies.

Arpilleras - 3D appliqued textiles made by women in Chile to depict suffering and violence
Arpilleras – 3D appliqued textiles made by women in Chile to depict suffering and violence

The book, also published at the end of July, has been designed by Barnbrook designer Marwan Kaabour with a punkish aesthetic that perfectly compliments the defiance of the objects and their fabricators.

The design of the book’s spine adds to the rebellious feel – all ridges and monochrome, held together with visible red string, giving a zine-like aesthetic.

Many of these newspaper mock-ups were produced during the 1986 Wapping Dispute, when print workers went on strike  a turning point in British labour history
Many of these newspaper mock-ups were produced during the 1986 Wapping Dispute, when print workers went on strike a turning point in British labour history

Disobedient Objects is edited by V&A visiting research fellow Gavin Grindon and the show’s curator Catherine Flood, who also penned the brilliant British Posters: Advertising, Art and Activism.

From the Disobedient Bodies: Art Activism in Argentina section
From the Disobedient Bodies: Art Activism in Argentina section

While the text gets rather weighty at times, we must remember this is a weighty topic – and Kaabour’s smart, arresting designs stop things getting too academicised.

The book delineates social movements from 1980 to the present day, with six essays focussing on key objects, including barricades – be they mattresses, manure or ‘dead horses’; giant puppets, featuring the ingenious ‘Inflatable cobblestone’, created during the 2012 General Strike in Barcelona and ‘unpopular pamphlets’ – a section that’s a treat for any lovers of print and graphic design.

From the Unpopular Pamphlets section
From the Unpopular Pamphlets section

Disobedient Objects is published on 26 July by V&A Publishing priced £19.99

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