Students Staff

14 August 2014

Co-curator of "exhilarating" new exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum joins Essex

The co-curator of Disobedient Objects, the groundbreaking new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has joined the School of Philosophy and Art History at Essex.

Dr Gavin Grindon will take on the role of Lecturer in Contemporary Art and Curating and Co-Director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies and will start working with Essex undergraduates and postgraduates from September.

Disobedient Objects is the first exhibition to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change since the 1970s.

It brings together compelling objects from across the world to challenge conventional ideas of art and design by demonstrating how political activism drives design ingenuity and collective creativity while also appropriating and exploiting mainstream symbols and imagery.

Critics have praised the show with The Independent calling it "one of the most exhilarating, important exhibitions of the year", the Daily Telegraph describing Disobedient Objects as "utterly engrossing" and The Observer calling it "a thought-provoking and mind-nourishing show".

Co-curating the exhibition has led Dr Grindon to investigate new critical approaches to displaying art and design from beyond the mainstream and working with artists, designers and the public to put objects in context that many might find controversial or confrontational; such as a child's slingshot from Palestine; book-shields made by students to protect them from the police while protesting against education cuts; solidarity pendants made by imprisoned Black Panthers; or the death mask - made in protest - of a death row prisoner.

Dr Grindon said "These aren't objects that have been seen in a museum before. Our curation included workshops to involve makers in how their objects are represented in the exhibition, which was important as protest and direct action has a history of being misrepresented by the media in the past. One way this took shape was that we had a dual system of labels so the people who used these objects also wrote their own."

The exhibition puts on display arts of rebellion from around the world that illuminate the role of making in grassroots movements for social change: finely woven banners; defaced currency; changing designs for barricades and blockades; political video games; an inflatable general assembly to facilitate consensus decision-making; experimental activist-bicycles; and textiles bearing witness to political murders.

Dr Grindon is excited to be sharing the ideas and concepts Disobedient Objects investigated and challenged with Essex students.

He said: "At Essex I will be looking at the kind of approaches - the critical, political approaches to art and curating - which we used in this show."

And Essex's reputation for challenging convention and breaking through subject barriers was one of the things which attracted Dr Grindon to Essex.

He said: "I was attracted to the School of Philosophy and Art History because I was really excited by the ways it combined these two areas which are particular interests of mine. The school's reputation for groundbreaking work in art history and its critical approach is something I'm excited to contribute to."

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