The South Kensington neighborhood in London holds a spectacular museum called the Victoria & Albert Museum, which houses the world’s greatest exhibits of art and design. Within the walls of the museum is an exhibition currently on displayed called “Disobedient Objects”. This exhibition houses objects that have held powerful roles in movements for social change over the course of 30 years. Arts of rebellion from around the world make up this ballroom inside the museum. Models of rebellious camps, directions to create your own gas mask, defaced currency, and protest signs line the walls of the exhibition. All are aspects of rebellion throughout the past 30 years. Each piece, representing a different aspect of public’s idea of unique and influential political activism, pulls the entire collection together.
This exhibition got me thinking about the various, slightly less intense, forms of disobedient objects found throughout the city of London. Over my month of experience here in London, I thought back to each area I’ve visited. Graffiti and street art is a common aspect of certain neighborhoods in London, especially that of Brick Lane.
During my experience down Brick Lane, I came to find a building in the distance with a few words written in spray paint at the peak of it. It read, “If we all spit together, we can drown the bastards”. At the time of discovery I hadn’t grasped the full concept of what the meaning behind the message could possibly be. But after educating myself of other disobedient objects throughout history, I can fully agree that this graffiti message was a form of political activism. It suggests more than one enemy by the plural form of bastard. It also mentions the need of help from the overall public, or others of the same opinion by stating, “if we all spit together”. By writing this phrase atop of a building next to a crowded street, the artist knew their work would be seen by many, overall creating a form of invitation to help start a movement, yet still acting as an object of disobedience.
Another object of disobedience I’ve seen being portrayed in London is along the Thames at Southbank. There is a skate park under one of the structures that houses walls and walls of colorful graffiti. This graffiti is constantly changing from day to day due to different artists stamping their mark on the magnificent place. The skate park’s art is a symbol of disobedience in an obedient society because of the constant feeling of revolt among the different aspects of graffiti found in the area. People were disobedient to the original color of the walls, changing the vibe and making it colorful. Yet, the park continues to be vandalized by the new artists and pieces they spray onto it constantly reminding the public of the revolt against normality.
Ariana Frayer 06/08/2014