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Exhibition Review: Disobedient Objects 


Disobedient Objects is an exhibition that allows audience to explore the undervalued section of art and design. There displayed objects that are designed, not by corporates to sell, but by the people, whose names are usually unknown, to make a change in the world. The makers often rely on low-cost materials and simple process of making due to limited access to resources. The exhibition focuses on the social movements in the late 70s to the present, a time of the emergence of new technologies and changes to the world order. Issues ranges widely from environmentalism, feminism, human rights, to globalisation, capitalism and corruption.

The entire venue of the exhibition is generally dim, with lights directly projected onto the objects. The space, without a clear planned circulation, was divided with metal poles that are placed on the ground in density, and extends all the way up to the ceiling. The metal poles are reminiscent of barricades, and with banners hanging on them, a chaotic scene of a demonstration is implicitly reproduced.

One might picture a scene with people holding banners, boards and megaphones when hearing the word “protest”. The selection of objects in the exhibition is truly remarkable in its variety and broadens the audience’s perspective in the methods of protest. Types of objects include banners, leaflets, woven textiles, reassembled devices, vehicles, ceramics, sculptures… etc.

Some items employ a sense of humour, such as Inflatable Cobblestones, designed by The Eclectic Electric Collective. The inflatables provided a way to disrupt the repression from the police by manipulating them into engaging in a game of crowd volleyball, and distracting them from the protesters. Some are very simple in both the making and the concept. The message, however, is exceptionally witty. Book Blocs, which are shields made from cardboard, decorated into the covers of books. They were used to push back against the police, and when the police strikes, they appear to be attacking knowledge and the right to free thought.

The one that gathered the most people was the Lock-On Device, with a video documentary showing aside. It is a device which consists of metal pipes onto which protesters lock themselves with chains and bolts. It has been used in multiple blockades in recent years, and its extremity had people in awe.

Apart from the curated displayed objects, there was a section on the wall with objects (mainly leaflets) from ongoing struggles, which reminds the audience that what they see in the exhibition are not simply memories from the past, but are constant movements in human society that could affect them. 

In conclusion, Disobedient Objects is an exhibition that is thought-provoking and highly educational. It not only demonstrates the often overlooked creativity that exists in social movements, but also informs the audience of the social issues that are either forgotten or censored by state power. It is an exhibition that makes people reflect and gives a sense of obligation to make a difference or at least, to be aware about the struggles that is happening around us.


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