The Broke Folks’ Guide to London: Disobedient Objects

Today, I decided it was time to get a bit of culture, what with living in a city entirely filled with art, music, fashion and theatre. So I headed to the V&A to check out their Disobedient Objects exhibition, an exhibition of everyday objects that have been used in protests across the world. Suck it, man who assumed I was there to see the wedding dresses.

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This is what a feminist looks like.

In Scotland, September basically might as well be January, so I foolishly wore the world’s biggest cardigan, only to take it off 10 seconds after leaving the house and cart it around all day. My life is so hard sometimes.

Anyway.

The exhibition is amazing. Genuinely breathtaking. My advice would be to shut down your computer right now and go see it yourself. But if you’re too far away, or can’t be bothered, or just want a little sneak preview, you cheeky thing, you, read on.

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The exhibition takes place in a small barred room, accessed underneath a security gate – a little nod to the use of barricades in protest since whenever barricades were invented. A soundtrack composed of music, chants and speeches from various protests is broadcast via a revamped Bike Bloc – an old discarded bike, with speakers welded into it, used to breach the security cordon at the COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. I fully regret not taking a photograph of it, it’s quite a contraption. Banners in every colour and language stripe across the ceiling, messages of hope and anger strewn through them in equal measure. And then, there are the Disobedient Objects themselves. I couldn’t take photos of all of them, so here are just a few of my favourites.

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After Hurricane Sandy hit, independent movements were set up to provide aid and assistance to those who needed it, as well as to criticise the lack of national response. When the National Guard did arrive on the scene, the immediately reported to the volunteers for training.

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Text reads “This season’s well dressed blockader may choose to carry -“. Because who says fashion and protest can’t mix?

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Legal advice for gay people in case of arrest, including the credit-card sized bust card advising them of their rights. Also, an excellently intimidating gay rights banner and a somewhat fabulous blockader’s guide.

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One of my favourite installations at the exhibition, this video showed a newsreel detailing the escapades of the Barbie Liberation Organisation. In 1993, the BLO switched the voiceboxes of around 500 talking Barbie dolls and GI Joes, before returning them to the shelves to be sold as normal. Serious props to the little girl who, when asked by a newsreader if she was disappointed when her Barbie started making explosion noises, said “I thought it was hilarious, so I just started laughing”.

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These are arpilleras, artworks made by women using appliquéd textiles. The practice originated in Chile, where the pieces were sold through solidarity networks, providing income for the women and their families. As powerful men are wont to do when it comes to poor women, the leaders of the country dismissed the pieces as simple “folk art”, blind to the frequently subversive messages they were disseminating.

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Oh, my mistake. How did a perfectly ordinary photograph of the Sun get in here?

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A museum sign which definitely was not in any way encouraging you to commit acts of protest against seriously fucking unfair income growth in the UK.

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Placards, stickers and billboards supporting causes still going on throughout the world. There was even a little hint of home…

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This is a seriously amazing collection, and I feel thoroughly honoured that I got to see these objects, and thoroughly grateful to the people who used them to improve the lives of myself and those like me. Stay disobedient, folks, it’s how things get done.

Museum Week At The National Museum of Scotland

Since it’s Museum Week (nah, I’m joking, I didn’t even know it was museum week until I got there), I decided to pop along to the National Museum of Scotland for a bit of culture.

IMG_2548Holy crap, the backend of my WordPress has just changed. Hold on everyone, god only knows what this blog post might look like by the time it reaches you.

Anyway. The museum is currently hosting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, and seeing as how I like wildlife, like photography and love the museum, I figured it’d be worth a peek.

IMG_2539Unfortunately, cameras aren’t allowed into the exhibition, presumably so that scoundrels like me don’t pretend they’ve had a casual encounter with a lion cub while wandering the Lockerbie hills. So you’ll just have to take my word for it, if you’re in Edinburgh, it’s definitely worth a look. From mummy crocodiles with baby crocs on their faces, to stampeding herds of elephants, the photographs are simply stunning. The exhibition is running until June 1st, and is completely free! Hooray!

Having sated my desire for grown up culture, I headed back into the main hall to sample some of the museum’s other delights.

IMG_2546The National Museum of Scotland is an amazing place for little kids and big kids alike, providing fun, interactive and educational exhibits whether you want to learn about dinosaurs or racecars, pottery or Ancient Egypt. My obsessions haven’t changed much since I was 8 years old, so I immediately made a beeline for the Natural World and Earth in Space galleries.

My first ever trip to the museum happened because I heard they had a dinosaur. They do. It is excellent.

My first ever trip to the museum happened because I heard they had a dinosaur. They do. It is excellent.

This is a mega sloth. The fact that this animal once existed brings me untold amounts of joy. Just imagine a sloth this big.

This is a mega sloth. The fact that this animal once existed brings me untold amounts of joy. Just imagine a sloth this big.

Don't you listen to them rock, I think you're beautiful.

Don’t you listen to them rock, I think you’re beautiful.

Whether you want to while away a few hours on a lazy afternoon, learn something new, or just dress up as an astronaut for a while (no lie, I have done this), the National Museum of Scotland is one of my favourite places to hang out in Edinburgh. Go on, it’s Museum Week after all.