Objects designed to support political activism including a graffiti-writing robot and a giant inflatable cobblestone made to be thrown at police will form the focus of an exhibition opening this summer at London's V&A museum.
Disobedient Objects will open at the V&A on 26 July and will be the first exhibition to present innovative examples of art and design developed by countercultures to communicate political messages or facilitate protests.
"Social movement cultures aren't normally collected by museums, with the exception of prints and posters," the exhibition's co-curator Gavin Grindon told Dezeen. "We wanted to raise the question of this absence of other kinds of disobedient objects in the museum."
The objects that will be exhibited were created by non-professional designers, mostly using craft methods or adhoc manufacturing processes.
These include a variety of dolls, masks and puppets such as the tableau created by American group, The Bread and Puppet Theatre, which was used in protests against the first Gulf War.
Craft skills such as sewing will be represented by items including hand-stitched textiles from Chile that document political violence and a banner created for the Unite union in the UK.
Painted banners and placards featuring humorous or evocative slogans have also been selected.
Grindon, who is an academic specialising in the history of activist art and current research fellow at the V&A, participated in activist movements and organised workshops with protesters to find out which objects would be most suitable for the exhibition.
"The show is about existing design so it made sense to use a documentary approach to find examples of things that have actually been made," Grindon explained. "None of this stuff is professionally designed, it's just happening in the public sphere in various ways."
Other objects set to feature in the show include a shiny inflatable cobblestone thrown at police by Spanish protestors in 2012 as a harmless version of a weapon traditionally used by rioters.
A robot called Graffiti Writer that paints slogans on road surfaces illustrates a more high-tech approach to creating protest tools.
Spanning a period from the 1970s to the present day, the exhibition will include newspaper cuttings, how-to guides and film content to provide additional levels of context.
One specially commissioned film will document the evolution of "lock-on" devices used by protesters to attach themselves to objects or blockade sites.
Objects and imagery will be displayed alongside a text from the curators as well as explanations from the activists about how they came up with the ideas and how they were used.
"What we'd like people to take away from the exhibition is the idea that design isn't always about professional practice - it's something that people can get involved in themselves," said Grindon. "The actors changing the world are doing so using something that they have in their hands already."
The exhibition's approach to identifying and procuring objects is in line with the "rapid response" curatorial process introduced by the V&A recently, which has seen it acquire objects including Katy Perry eyelashes and the world's first 3D-printed gun.
Disobedient Objects will be on show at the V&A from 26 July 2014 until 1 February 2015.
- Tender Tub by Maren Hartveld
- Witches' Kitchen by Studio Tord Boontje
- Garden Tools by Itay Laniado
- Dubious London Town by Vic Lee at The Te…mporium
- Found by Oscar Diaz
- Luca Nichetto combines Danish and Italia…n design for Cloud seating range
- Egg of Columbus by Valentina Carretta of… Fabrica for Seletti
- 251 Series by Uniform Wares at Dezeen Wa…tch Store
- Beautiful Planets by Béatrix Li-Chin Lo…os at Galerie Gosserez
Sign up for a daily roundup
of all our stories