@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Review: #IObject : Ian Hislop’s search for dissent exhibition at British Museum

    September 6th, 2018mardixonCulture

    Since I first heard about ##IObject at the British Museum I knew it would be one I had to see.  History folded with satire and curated (ok, co-curated) by the one and only Ian Hislop – what would not be to love!

    My expectation were high – very high but from the second I walked in I knew it was going to be a brilliant exhibition!


    There were many highlights in the exhibition but meeting Ian Hislop and curator Tom Hockenhull and talking about Spitting Image and National Puppetry Archive was pretty special.

    And of course seeing the Banksy.

    For me it was ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.  I invited Josephine Walsh to write a guest review (her details are at the end of the article).

    I Object: A witty take on the history of defiance and disobedience  

    I Object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent is an exploration of satire, subversion and disobedience throughout history and across the globe. Guest-curated by one of Britain’s most prolific satirists of the 21st century, Ian Hislop delved into the British Museum’s vast collections to pull out objects which acts of dissent. Assisted by curator Tom Hockenhull, I Object features 100 objects that give voice to those who challenge the official version of events.

    The objects on display (many for the first time), range from repurposed everyday items to finely created works of art. Throughout the exhibition runs the persistent voice of people whose views deviated from the standard narratives, and were passionate about presenting a different point of view.

    Some of the objects are quite overt in their messaging, such as 18th century satirical British prints poking fun at George IV, or an Edwardian coin which has been defaced by the slogan ‘Votes for Women’. There’s a pink knitted ‘pussyhat’, now synonymous with the protest movement that opposes policies of the Trump administration, and is broadly used as a symbol of solidarity for women’s rights and political resistance.

    Others are less obvious, such as a yellow umbrella suspended from the ceiling. Part of the 2014 democracy protests in Hong Kong, the umbrella carries the slogan ‘But I’m not the only one’. It was one of tens of thousands used as a symbol of passive resistance to China’s decision to rule out full universal suffrage in Hong Kong. The famous bronze Meroe head of the Roman Emperor Augustus is beautifully presented lying on it’s side, harking back to the state in which it was originally discovered–buried face-down at the entrance to a Kushite victory shrine. Kushite soldiers buried the head in an act of desecration around 23/24BC, and all those who entered the monument literally stamped their enemy into the ground.

    At the press preview, Hislop said that he’d been worried that there wouldn’t be any traces of dissent in the British Museum’s collection. Indeed, the opening text addresses the view that at first glance, the institution seems to be a reinforcement, if not a celebration of authority, of history’s rulers and their artefacts. “I realised that this was patronising of the past,” said Hislop. “It’s extraordinary how persistent dissent has been across the continents and over the time. The difference is in how careful you have to be expressing it.”

    The British Museum pokes a bit of fun at itself by including a hoax piece/artwork by Banksy which was secretly ‘installed’ in the Museum in 2005. Peckham Rock, complete with mock information label and accession number, was placed in one of the galleries by the anonymous artist and apparently went undiscovered for three days until Banksy announced the prank on his website.

    The exhibition was preceded by a three-part series on BBC Radio 4, where Hislop explores the reasons behind acts of subversion and delves into some of the stories of the objects on display. There’s also an associated event programme throughout November of evening talks and panel discussions, including a conversation between Hislop and Armando Iannucci discussing satire and subversion in a post-truth world.

    If you’re looking for a refreshing insight on how people throughout history have stood up and said “No, I don’t agree”, you’ll really enjoy I Object. In today’s world, saturated with headlines decrying fake news, filled with anxiety around impending Brexit-related doom and growing frustrations with political systems around the world, this is a welcome and witty celebration of those who challenged authority, even in the smallest of ways. These objects remind us that there have always been challenges to the status quo, and stand as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

    I Object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent is supported by Citi and opens at the British Museum. 6 September 2018 and until 20 January 2019. Tickets: £12 per adult, see website for full details and to book your ticket online.

    Jose is a major museum fan-girl who tweets as @_girl_in_red and also runs her own blog, mapleandmabel.com.

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