The relationship between art and activism is a complex one, and Arts Attack Disobey is the perfect example of aesthetically pleasing art meeting conscious political statements.
On show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the exhibition is hosted by Arts Attack in collaboration with UAL’s Students’ Union (SUARTS), and showcases work from students of the University of the Arts London on social, political and global issues.
Entering the exhibition, Shitty Shirts is the most visible and striking piece, which features an array of dirty, blood-stained city shirts hanging from the ceiling. Its creator, CSM student Sally Gorham describes it as a “protest against a small group, mainly white males, who pay themselves excessively at the expense of everyone else”.
A collaboration between LCC student Calvin Lok and CSM student Celine Loh, Hi I Believe is a twist on the popular ‘Hello My Name Is…’ stickers.
These act as the object of disobedience, placing an emphasis on our beliefs encouraging conversation with like-minded individuals, in the hope of creating change. Speaking to Calvin Lok, he revealed one child had taken a liking to his work and had written ‘Santa’ on his Hi I Believe sticker.
The highlight of my visit was Hands up don’t shoot by Inés Cámara and Ella Phillips. The artwork exemplifies the growing relationship between social media and technology to raise social awareness. The piece features two loud speakers which play a ringtone acting as a tool for disobedience against unequal power structures.
The disobedient objects cover the wooden lockers of the V&A’s Learning Centre Lunchroom, creating a juxtaposition of the socially conscious work within the bourgeois institution.
Curator and SUARTS president Shelly Asquith spoke on the idea behind the exhibition: “We thought the disobedient objects exhibition downstairs was really interesting. We approached the V&A with the idea of students responding to exhibition. There is a really interesting range of art, inspired by so many global movements such as the Black Lives Matter campaign, Gize Park in Turkey, the Hong Kong protest for democracy.”
Arts Attack Disobey is part of the V&A’s Festival of Disobedience that will be running until 1 February.
Photography by James Childs